Unify Delaware 2021 in pictures and text

Well, the stars aligned just so as the family obligation I thought was yesterday turned out to be next Saturday and my balky knees didn’t balk so walking around wasn’t too unpleasant. So Kim and I took the 45-minute drive across slower lower to Hudson Fields over Milton way to check out the first (hopefully first annual) Unify Delaware Festival.

Veterans of this site know how this works now: the photos get their own caption and help tell the story, although I may write a little more to move the narrative along. Fair warning: it’s a long post alert because I picked out 29 pictures.

Hudson Fields is probably better known as an outdoor concert venue, but the place provided plenty of room for the UDF. Photo by Kim Corkran.
Entering the Unify Delaware Festival it didn’t look like much, but it turned out well nonetheless.
For a first-time effort, the event had an impressive and broad list of sponsors.
Given the Patriots for Delaware slogan “Freedom in Unity” it’s no surprise that was the chosen theme.

Let me talk a moment about the sponsor. I saw some scuttlebutt planted by certain political operatives on social media questioning the motives and principles of Patriots for Delaware, with the scare quotes about them being an “anti-vax” and “anti-mask” group. Does “my body, my choice” only apply in situations when government coercion isn’t present? There were a few there in masks, and that was fine because it was their choice. Let’s work from that happy medium, shall we?

I’m going to move on with the post. In any event like this where one is present, the first place I go is to the car show. They had one – but when we got there, someone else was dropping in to check things out.

After the National Anthem was sung at noon, we had a skydiver drop in. They ended up auctioning off the flags later. Photo by Kim Corkran.
Want. I bet it’s a cool way to flatten stuff (besides pavement.)

Oh, they had more than cars there. Lots of construction implements, this above being one sample. Now we’ll do the cars, beginning with the overview below and then focusing on some beauties.

There were probably 40-50 cars in the show, which was pretty good turnout to me.
Of the group, this was probably my favorite – a first-generation Chevy Monte Carlo.
There were several Camaros there, but I always thought the Pontiac Firebird was a little cooler – even with the flames.
It’s almost Halloween, so why not have a designated driver? Better than the hearse on display down the line.
If there’s a little red truck, my wife will find it. It’s the same model year I am, but in a LOT better shape. Photo by Kim Corkran.
What is this thing?

It’s a Thing.

Yeah, I know it’s a thing, but what’s the car called?

I told you, it’s a Thing!

The Laurel and Hardy-type references can go on and on with this one. Thanks, Volkswagen. Someone also had a nice Karmann Ghia there.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we had cars in character. You can’t see the Darth Vader on the hood. Pity. Photo by Kim Corkran.
This guy wasn’t part of the car show, but the window was worthy of inclusion.
You’ll have to trust me because I try to avoid photographing kids, but we had the trifecta there: planes, trains (the little tram running around), and automobiles. I think they were taking very brave people up in this plane.

Thanks for indulging me on that one. There was a lot of other stuff going on, and I have a nose for finding certain people and groups.

This group is seeking a Convention of States to address term limits, a balanced budget, and government overreach. Problem is getting 34 states in our (supposedly) federalist republic to agree that’s a bug and not a feature.
They clustered the political groups together so people could stay away. (Just kidding – sort of.)

A little scoop about the Julianne Murray tent – according to the volunteer in her tent, Murray was not present because she was fundraising upstate. Part of the reason: she will have a primary opponent (read: stalking horse.)

There were quite a few vendors there. It wasn’t an overly expensive event to set up for (having done Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival in the past, by comparison this one was really affordable) so it was a strong showing for a first-time event.
A prime example of unity: tie-dye shirts. Or maybe my wife just liked them. Photo by Kim Corkran.
Sure, these were vendors, but the flags were placed in a sweet spot for photos.
This HAD to be a big seller. Photo by Kim Corkran.
Blessing or a curse? An event that drew hundreds of people only had two food vendors. I will say the Blue Ribbon Burger that came from SmashMouth (on the right) was a smash with me! Probably in my top 20 I’ve ever had, it was that good. The taco place (Tacos Mexigo) on the left looked like it had good stuff too, but they ran out of burritos and I like them better than tacos.
The kids had their own place to play as well. Bet there were a lot of tired little ones.
As predicted, I did not participate in the loosely organized cornhole tournament.
And if I can’t accurately toss a bean bag…well, are you kidding?
The organizers had their own space with information and various other ways to attract those dollars from your wallet. My finger was not part of it.
If you liked this sign, it was yours for the low price of $10.
It was a modest silent auction, but decent for a first-time event.
Later on, there was a live auction for several larger items. This design was one of the boards they used in the cornhole tournament.

You notice the stage there? Well, I have some good news: I get two posts out of this! After a extremely way too long hiatus, the Unify Delaware Festival provided me the occasion to bring back Weekend of Local Rock next week! So look for more pictures and text, and maybe some suggestions for their prospective repeat performance next fall – right in the middle of campaign season. Should be fun like this one was.

And to all the naysayers: you really, truly missed an opportunity to unify with a bunch of good people.

The prospect of unifying

I used to do this more often, but still there’s once in awhile I’ll promote an upcoming event even if my prospects for attendance are limited.

Saturday looks like a nice day weatherwise, with a high in the upper 60s. What is most likely to keep me away is the possibility of a family obligation.

What piqued my interest in this event is the sponsor (Patriots for Delaware) and the idea that it’s billed as a family-friendly event. That’s not to say there won’t be hot and cold running politicians there – after all, $10 a person is pocket change for most of them – but it’s not the focus of the proceedings. I would be scoping out the silent auction and maybe dropping a coin or two on the 50/50 raffles while checking out the car show and the bands.

(I like to play cornhole, but my time in the cornhole tournament would be limited to the amount of time it takes for my opponent to throw a half-dozen bean bags in the hole. This is based on experience.)

Of course, this is a busy time of year for everyone as fall sports are in full swing, families begin to get ready for Halloween, and a lot of other church and school-sponsored fall festivals dot the calendar on October Saturdays. The weather is generally cool and that brings people outside, too. So their prediction of thousands may or may not be optimistic – I would consider Unify Delaware a smashing success with 5,000 people. Having worked on the Autumn Wine Festivals for several years, I know it draws about that many during a two-day run – granted, it has a higher price point but they serve alcohol, which Unify Delaware won’t do. Unify Delaware will have more space, too. So I think attendance of 5,000 is very doable, and as a fundraiser it could reach six digits.

So if the family and the old arthritic knees are willing, I may see you there Saturday. Sounds like fun for an afternoon.

Will the ground crumble under their feet?

With more and more people crying “let’s go Brandon,” Joe Biden’s poll numbers cratering, and with a Virginia governor’s race (supposedly a bellwether race when Democrats win it) that’s tighter than anyone expected, the Democrats and all their associated special interests are deeply worried about impending doom in the 2022 midterms. They’re so worried, in fact, that I got an intriguing e-mail Saturday from my old foes at Indivisible that started out this way:

Our progressive champions in Congress have fought like hell for us this year. 

For an inclusive recovery that meets the moment. 

For affordable housing. 

For our climate. 

For a path to citizenship.

For lower prescription drug prices.

For affordable childcare.

For a democracy of, by, and for the people. 

How much of it are you willing to give up? How much are you willing to leave unfinished? How many of these things are you willing to let slip away?

Right now, Mitch McConnell and other Trump-loving Republicans are working hard to take it all away and reclaim their congressional majority. And the truth is, unless we start fighting like hell for those members of Congress who fought like hell for us this year, Republicans could win (they only need to win five seats in the House and one in the Senate).

If Republicans are successful, every one of our priorities will be dead on arrival.

Together, we’ve got to start fighting to say we’re not willing to cede any progress. Not one law. Not one priority. Not. One. Inch.

That’s why yesterday, we launched our new electoral program for the 2022 election cycle: Give No Ground. (link added)

“Make sure Republicans don’t get control of Congress next year!”, Indivisible e-mail, October 16, 2021.

In truth, their regressive champions got awful greedy given their lack of a mandate. What they thought was a mandate was really a reaction to a president for whom the media had nothing good to say and whose record should have spoken for itself – but hindsight is always 20-20. Meanwhile, the regressive track record during the Biden regime is really, really detrimental to our interests; hence, the horrible polling. So what will they do?

First off, they got their house organ of CNN to write up a puff piece, which explained that:

The list from Indivisible, a grassroots organization with groups across the country, overlaps in part with the campaign committee’s slate. The beneficiaries of its new “Give No Ground” initiative will receive an initial donation to be followed by bespoke investments, potentially including help with voter mobilization, rapid response messaging and outreach in multiple languages.

“Indivisible launches project to protect Democratic incumbents in 2022,” Gregory Krieg, CNN, October 15, 2021.

“Help with voter mobilization”? Good luck with that.

They plan to spend a minimum of $1 million of dark money (that’s not what they say, but that’s what it surely will be) to prop up seven House incumbents from six states as well as Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. The list from the House is “Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin of California, Lucy McBath of Georgia, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Andy Kim of New Jersey, Antonio Delgado of New York and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.” Except for Cartwright, these representatives came in on the Democrat ripple of 2018, while Cartwright’s district shifted that year due to court-ordered changes in Pennsylvania’s district map. (He was initially elected in 2012.) District changes for this year may make things more difficult for some of these incumbents, but most come from Democrat-dominated states.

It will be interesting to see if the program expands to Maryland once their redistricting is complete. As it stands, the First District (as it’s known at the moment) has longtime Republican Andy Harris seeking a seventh term he once pledged not to seek. (Most likely he’s wishing to be back in the majority again.) While only one Democrat, David Harden, has officially filed against Harris, the odds-on favorite to win that primary is former state legislator and onetime gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur, who moved to the Eastern Shore once she lost her race for Maryland’s top spot. She’s been outraising Harris over the last few months but Andy still has plenty of cash on hand, nearly a 2:1 edge. Yet depending on how the district is drawn, there may be additional resources flowing Heather’s way. And yes, she fits right in with those regressives because she checks a lot of their boxes: LGBT female with a very liberal voting record in the Maryland General Assembly over her tenure there.

On the other hand, the situation in Delaware is bad for Republican prospects, as the leading GOP Congressional candidate right now is the one who just lost to incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester by 17 points 11 months ago. (He did win the votes on Election Day, though – it was the mail-in ballots that provided LBR’s winning margin.) With legislators unable to “run from cover” based on a 4-year term because all 62 seats in the Delaware General Assembly are up in 2022, the question becomes whether anyone will give up a seat for this lottery ticket of a chance.

Worth remembering in all this, though, is that despite Joe Biden’s “victory” in the election last year, he had coattails that were tucked in. A party that was predicted to improve its majority in the House came close to losing it and it took two special elections in the Senate for that majority to be created. (Moreover, for want of about 15,000 votes, David Perdue didn’t get a 50% + 1 majority in his race, which would have made the point moot.) So even if you figure there was an anti-Trump vote in 2020, there’s no Trump on the ballot in 2022. Most of my readers are smart enough to know that Democrats will try to put him there in an attempt to scare independent voters, much as every Republican was a “TEA Party” Republican a decade ago whether we liked them or not.

So here’s hoping that Indivisible wastes all that money. Hey, it will keep a certain class in the Swamp afloat for awhile until they figure out the next grift.

Thoughts on traveling to and through the land of DeSantis

In my last post I closed by saying I was going to take it easy for a few days. Well, it was definitely a white lie I uttered there because at the time it posted I was sitting (not so comfortably) on the AutoTrain heading south toward the outskirts of Orlando. So I was taking it easy but only as far as leaving some of the driving to others. (I did most of the driving in Florida, and dealing with Disney-area traffic is FAR from easy.)

I haven’t been to Florida since 2009, as the last time I saw my parents they visited me in Salisbury for my 50th birthday celebration. Seeing that being a blogger isn’t much for making a man wealthy, it took a long time for the stars to realign and allow for a long-anticipated return…fortunately, both my mom and dad are hanging in there as they’ve both passed the 80 barrier since I last saw them. Since we also took a day to visit Kassie’s half-brother and his significant other, it made for a week-long trip that spanned the state from the little bump along the Georgia border north of Jacksonville where the half-bro lives through the town of Sanford (where the Amtrak station for the AutoTrain is) to the orange groves along U.S. 27 downstate where my folks retired to 15 or so years ago.

In most instances, it seems like life is pretty much back to the pre-pandemic normal in Florida. People are out and about dining and going through life without the face diapers, the only exception being the motel in Sanford we stayed in the night before we boarded the AutoTrain back. (Seeing Orlando-area traffic, that was the best decision I made. I would have sweated out a 3 1/2 hour drive to catch a train had I left from the parents’ place, but instead we stayed 5 minutes away and had time for a leisurely breakfast, albeit at an IHOP next door.) But this hotel had a manager who was more cautious, as evidenced by the tray of disinfectant we were asked to leave the room key cards in. (And no, I didn’t take a picture. You’ll have to trust me on this one.)

Otherwise, I’m struggling to recall if any of the wait staff in the restaurants we ate at had masks on. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they did. (Honestly, though, I think I would notice them having masks first.)

On the other hand, they go WAY overboard with this at Amtrak. Basically from the minute you set foot on their property to get on a train to the second you get in your car to leave, they want that face diaper on you. Some people can deal with that for 20 hours or more and get some sleep, but I belong in the other category where it destroys any comfort I might have. And just an observation: traveling in a trio is no fun when you’re the odd one out and sit with a stranger – a nice enough lady, but still someone I don’t know – and something of a bonus when the train is emptier and you have the pair of seats to yourself. I may have snatched 2-3 hours of sleep instead of being awake almost all night for the 16-hour trip each way.

Being that it was October, though, I think we hit a sweet spot of sorts in that there aren’t as many people at Disney and the other theme parks because school is in session, nor are there the snowbirds who come down in late October and early November. My parents share a duplex (two houses placed side-by-side with a common wall) with one such snowbird, who is expected back in a couple weeks. Thus, aside from Orlando and going through the torrential downpour I hit going into Jacksonville the first time, I enjoyed driving in Florida – nice roads, good signage and pavement markings to help me along, and real speed limits up to 70 on the interstates and 65 on the other highways. It meant the traffic flow was about 75-80 mph, which is good for getting through half a state. (Imagine U.S. 13 as a 60 or 65 mph highway and you have U.S. 27 in that part of Florida.)

One other thing I noticed (or didn’t notice) is that there weren’t “help wanted” signs everywhere. I think the people have pretty much gone back to work, although there are probably fewer places to work now since the CCP virus and our government’s overreaction caused so much turmoil in the business world.

But, except for dealing with Amtrak and somewhat higher gas prices, I really (and surprisingly) felt like it was how travel used to be in 2019. Hopefully the next time I go that way, things will be even better.

Oh, and one last thing: I think we got to see Florida Man. We were driving down I-295 in Jacksonville on the St. Johns River bridge and there he was on an untagged dirt bike, zooming down the center lane doing a wheelie, then shifting to where he was standing on it. Then he motioned us to go by him, probably so he could get a better shot on his GoPro camera he had on his helmet. Definitely Florida Man, and definitely nuts.

Picks and pans from a Shorebird fan, 2021 edition

It’s been a loooooong two years since I last wrote some of these, and to be honest I thought a lot about it would change. But the funny thing? My first pick was the then-new concourse, but I never made it out there this season. Perhaps because it’s still underutilized despite my suggestions.

It was no surprise that attendance was down this season: no benefit of a “normal” offseason, having a somewhat shorter schedule overall, and getting a lot of questions about COVID restrictions after beginning the season with limited capacity all took their toll on the gate, which tumbled to a franchise-low 110,281 for the 60-game home season. Yet even the best six-game week only brought 14,249 to the park, which was about 4,000 fewer than an average pre-COVID six-game week would draw.

But I can’t really pan the staff this season, because if ever a group deserved a mulligan it was this one. Here’s hoping that, with the pandemic beginning to recede, 2022 will become a good comparable to 2019 – albeit with four fewer openings as the low-A schedule compressed to 132 games, 66 home and away. That makes a difference of about 12,000 fans. Drawing 200,000 once again next season would be an achievement but it’s doable. Getting back to full staff will also be a big help.

Because of the lack of staff, I can’t really pan the food too much – however, if I were to make a suggestion (and integrate my other idea) it would be nice to have a select-your-own sub (as in hoagie) station out on or near the concourse. It could even be cold subs or something not requiring a great deal of cooking, but I think it would be a nice idea for variety. Also, I wouldn’t mind them bringing the supreme pizza back – not that I ever recall eating it when it was here a couple years ago. (These guys make a surprisingly good pizza, even if it is just cheese or pepperoni.)

And now that we have some assurance that the team will be here, perhaps it’s time for more of those back-of-the-house improvements. (They did update the restroom at the entrance level concourse this year, refinishing it.) But even better, I think there could be a lot more done with the lobby and entrance to the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.

In looking at it over the years, I think the original intent of the stadium was to have most of the people enter by going up the stairs to the upper concourse where most of the concession stands are, then work their way down to what used to be the general admission bleacher seats. The lower center entrance was probably envisioned more for the box seat holders, but it’s become the predominant entrance over the years to a point where the upper entrances were barely used this year. (Maybe once or twice.) I’m not sure how to do it without looking at a plan, but it seems to me that they could make it a better experience than just walking down a nondescript hall. If you get the kid’s perspective of going up the stairs then reaching the top, smelling the smells, and then crossing the concourse to see the green grass of the field – although that view is unfortunately blocked by the elevator tower – maybe you’ll understand why this is something that interests me.

But looking forward to 2022, it will be nice to have the full amount of time to prepare promotions for next season. We did manage several fireworks shows, Scrapple Night, and a Gallos de Delmarva night at the tail end of the season, so it wasn’t a lost season by any means. Get the giveaways to be available on their appointed night and we should be all right.

Speaking of picks, instead of predicting the 25 players we were going to get (which would have been nigh-upon-impossible given this spring’s situation) I predicted how the league’s teams would finish. Here’s how that turned out:

  1. Down East Wood Ducks (Texas) (72-48, 2nd overall, lost championship series)
  2. Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore) (68-52, 4th overall based on tiebreaker*)
  3. Charleston RiverDogs (Tampa Bay) (82-38, 1st overall, won pennant)
  4. Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland) (58-62, 7th overall)
  5. Columbia Fireflies (Kansas City) (48-71, 10th overall)
  6. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Chicago Cubs) (59-61, 6th overall)
  7. Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Houston) (55-85, 8th overall)
  8. Salem Red Sox (Boston) (71-49, 3rd overall, won our Northern Division)
  9. Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) (68-52, 5th overall)
  10. Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox) (40-79, 12th overall)
  11. Augusta Greenjackets (Atlanta) (54-66, 9th overall)
  12. Fredericksburg Nationals (Washington) (44-76, 11th overall)

(*) We defeated Carolina in the season series, 8-4.

Given these numbers, I would say the surprises were Salem and Carolina, which didn’t look like they would have very good teams based on their systems but turned out to be two of the teams in contention until the final days. Lynchburg and (especially) Columbia, on the other hand, seemed to be the real underperformers. Aside from those outliers, though, teams tended to finish a position or two off where they were expected to be (except Myrtle Beach, who hit their 6th place target by a game over Lynchburg.) So maybe I’ll try again for next season, with the added bonus of knowing each team’s schedule.

So there you have picks and pans. I’m going to take it easy for a few days.

Thoughts on Ben Carson

You may wonder why the name of the onetime Obama nemesis and 2016 Presidential candidate is popping up on this website after a lengthy hiatus, but wonder no more. Last Friday night I was one of hundreds of Sussex County and surrounding residents who were treated to a personal appearance from Dr. and Mrs. Carson at Crossroad Community Church – the same venue which had the discussion on CRT I covered in July.

This is a post which will be frugal in photos and bereft of quotes because I didn’t come equipped with a notebook for them. I wasn’t really expecting any breaking news from Ben aside from chatter about a new enterprise he’s beginning called the American Cornerstone Institute (ACI), an organization dedicated to four basic principles: Faith, Liberty, Community, and Life. Certainly it’s a way to keep himself relevant after finishing his stint as HUD director and candidate for president, but I get the sense that the gig for him is a little bit like President Trump is doing these days: they aren’t doing it because they have to but they’re doing it because they want to.

So about the evening – we had a little bit of everything. There was this introductory video, congregational praise singing, dancing, and worship before Dr. Carson spoke, and an appeal for helping to get state and local chapters of the American Cornerstone group off the ground. (In that respect, they’re going to tread a lot of the ground already staked out by the 9/12 Delaware Patriots and Patriots for Delaware.) Ben talked a lot about his youth and upbringing, noting he was once called the dumbest kid in the school but two years later was motivated enough to move to the top of the class. (Then again, he was in those grades right around the time I was born. I have to stop and think about how he was raised in grinding poverty in a pre-Great Society, pre-civil rights era, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He graduated from high school in 1969, just before I began my schooling.)

One perk of attending was that each seat was equipped with Ben’s book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. Obviously the cynic in all of us may see the book as a loss leader (yeah, it probably was) and the event as an effort to raise funds and awareness for his new enterprise (yeah, it certainly was as you’ll see in an upcoming photo) but to me there was a person on stage who was determined to leave this place better than how he found it, one not depending on statistics or jargon to make his point.

Out of all that he said, though, I was somewhat surprised and a little bit disappointed about how little he said about his tenure at HUD. Certainly Ben’s known for his medical expertise, but I think more discussion about the “fish out of water” experience of running a government agency would have been enlightening. Certainly I would love to know whether (and if so, how) that experience led him to form the ACI once his time was done in January – after all, Dr. Carson has reached a stage in life and accomplishment where he would have been excused if he decided to spend more time with his wife Candy and play a few more rounds on the golf course. But it appears he’s chosen not to, instead coming to Delaware to spread the word about his organization.

What I can tell you is that we had a full house, plus overflow.

It so happened we were sitting in the very corner of the room so you can see how full it was. We were probably among the last seated before they went to overflow. If you look closely at the empty VIP seats in front of us, you’ll see a copy of his book at each seat.

Besides the video I alluded to earlier, Carson made most of his remarks with a sparse backdrop.

I wasn’t really pleased with how my photos of Ben came out. I’ll check and if Kim took a better one I’ll swap it out (with credit, of course.)

Once he finished his remarks – which ran about 45 minutes – he exited stage right, directly in front of us so I could thank him for coming. Apparently he was going to meet with those in overflow before still further meetings with the VIPs. In the interim, we heard from the state coordinator of ACI, a longtime friend of Ben’s. He noted that the state group was looking for members and support, and I think they got some, judging by the bowl.

I’m not great at counting money like this, but I’m sure there was at least several hundred dollars in the bowl. I don’t think the Carsons would be hurting for gas money back home.

If people wanted something a little more tangible and to spread the word, well, they had threads too.

I never thought I looked very good in white and they didn’t have my size, anyway. Not as much in that bucket.

When he ran for President in 2016, Ben Carson was sort of middle of the pack as far as my endorsement went, with good points and bad points. Similarly, I liked a lot of what he had to say on Friday night, but I think Ben could have been a little bit more enlightening if he hadn’t focused as much on his story (as compelling as it is) and talked a little more on how his organization will differ from all of the other think tanks/PACs failed candidates usually come up with. Maybe that’s just the recovering politician in me. (There was a promising aspect that ACI just began called Little Patriots – hopefully that carries on the spirit of the Rush Revere book series authored by Rush Limbaugh, which was a conservative historical perspective tailored for a younger set.)

Perhaps we will get more of those answers in the coming days, but I’m glad slower lower Delaware got a little love from a nationally-known figure.

Postscript: It’s worth mentioning as well that there was almost no advertising for this event. I’m sure it was mentioned at the church regularly, but the way I heard about the event was via The Bridge (a local Christian radio station) and it was only mentioned a handful of times there. I guess word gets around fast, but when my wife shared this on social media a lot of the response was “I wish I had known.” They could have filled that church twice over with a bit more advertising.

Shorebird of the Year – a 2021 season wrapup

There were a few fretful days when I wondered if I would be able to write this post.

We first had to endure the cancellation of the 2020 season thanks to the CCP virus and our reaction to it, then had to learn our fate as the powers that be at Major League Baseball sliced and diced the old minor league baseball system. Fortunately, we did not come out as Julienne fries.

Instead, we survived as the Orioles’ lowest full-season team in a hybrid regional league called the Low-A East that combined teams from the old South Atlantic League and demoted franchises from the former Carolina League and played an excessively divisional schedule where 96 of the scheduled 120 games (a season shortened by 20 games from our old format) were played against three teams: the Fredericksburg Nationals, Lynchburg Hillcats, and Salem Red Sox. (None of whom came from the old SAL. In fact, we did not play an SAL alumni team in 2021.) For long stretches of the season, the team did not emerge from the Maryland/Virginia combo and did not venture south of North Carolina all season. Before April is out next season, though, that will be rectified as the Shorebirds make a long road trip to Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina. It will be a 132-game campaign, which is slated to be the plan for the A-ball level going forward.

Once play began it was apparent we would have a successful team, but then aggressive player advancement by the Orioles meant our roll was slowed for awhile in the second half of the season, causing us to fall behind Salem in a division we led for much of the first half. The influx of (mainly) 2021 draft choices in mid-August turbocharged a team that had fallen off its early torrid pace to stand at 48-42, but even a 20-10 finish wasn’t enough to catch Salem – a team that was our nemesis all year. The Red Sox were one of two teams against whom we had a losing record (14-16) with the other being the Down East Wood Ducks (4-8). They were two of the top three teams in the league. Conversely, we were 25-11 against Fredericksburg, 17-13 against Lynchburg, and 8-4 against Carolina for a 68-52 mark overall, tied with Carolina for fourth out of the 12 teams. Had the league employed a more traditional 3 division winner + 1 wildcard format, we would have grabbed that number four slot based on the tiebreaker. As it was, we played spoiler – eliminating Salem from contention by beating them in the final game of the season and allowing the aforementioned Wood Ducks into the league championship series, where they fell in five games to Charleston.

Because I liked the team stats format I used for 2019, I’ll use pretty much the same with new numbers plugged in.

  • Our .253 average was good enough for 4th out of 12 teams. We came out of a July slump to post good numbers.
  • We scored a club-record 720 runs in 16 fewer games than it took the 2000 team to accomplish the old record of 700 – yet that was only third in the loop.
  • The Shorebirds finished fifth in the league with 1004 hits.
  • Power numbers were interesting: 187 doubles were 7th, but the 20 triples were dead last – one behind Fredericksburg. So figure out this logic: we were third in the league with a franchise record 113 home runs, beating the 2016 squad that had 112 in 139 games.
  • Just like runs, we had 646 RBI and finished third overall.
  • 1,570 total bases was enough for the fifth spot.
  • We drew 573 walks, second only to Carolina’s 642, and struck out 1,097 times to be second lowest behind Salem’s 1020.
  • The Shorebirds were sixth-best in both stolen bases (152) and getting caught (41.)
  • They were third in on-base percentage at .358 and fourth in slugging with a .396 mark, leaving them fourth in OPS with .754 overall.

We had record-setting pitching two years ago. This season, though, we were bested by a couple select teams in most categories.

  • In a more difficult year for pitching leaguewide, we finished second with a 4.14 collective ERA. Charleston led at 3.45.
  • We finished fifth in the league with 28 saves.
  • We threw the fifth-most innings at 1,028.
  • 929 hits allowed was fourth-best. Our 573 runs allowed was third but our 473 earned was second behind Charleston, who allowed 494 and 403 respectively. So while our pitching was frustrating at times, so was everyone else’s.
  • We again finished fifth with 95 home runs allowed.
  • We led the league by hitting only 55 batters, one fewer than Salem.
  • Our 1,161 strikeouts was only good for eighth, but our 432 walks was third. Strange stat of the year: one intentional walk. It was so unusual I had to see who allowed it (Jensen Elliott) and who he walked (Stephen Scott of Salem), way back on May 9. It was the one Sunday game I missed, for Mother’s Day.
  • Our 1.324 WHIP was second again, miles behind Charleston’s 1.176.

We had a rough season fielding with a .965 fielding percentage that was ninth, and our 148 errors ranked even worse in tenth leaguewide. We also finished ninth in double plays turned with 205, tied for fifth with 20 passed balls, and allowed 172 stolen bases to rank ninth. The 15% caught stealing was tenth out of the twelve teams.

In terms of the Orioles’ revamped minor league system, we have an incomplete grade thanks to the extension of Norfolk’s season – however, they’re still mired near the bottom of the Triple-A East at 51-75 as of this writing.

Thanks to a fortuitous rainout affecting the Somerset Patriots, Bowie didn’t have to endure a playoff game to make the Double-A Northeast finals with a 73-47 record. But they were swept out by Akron, who also won Bowie’s division as the top two squads came from the same division.

Aberdeen also finished second in its division, but well short of the playoff mark with a 58-61 record in the High-A East.

Out of eight teams in the South Division of the Florida Complex League, the two Oriole teams finished sixth and eighth – the Black team was 18-27 while the Orange team finished a league-worst 10-33. Hopefully that’s a issue with diluted talent between two teams and not a sign to come for the 2022 Shorebirds.

Unfortunately, the story was similar in the Dominican Summer League where the Orioles 2 team was 23-27 and finished sixth in an eight-team division and the Orioles 1 team was the #1 worst at 13-34. That’s not what you would expect from a farm system deemed to be the best in baseball right now.

Now it’s time to look at how my position players of the month fared.

We begin with J.D. Mundy, who did well enough in May to both win the position player honors and a promotion to Aberdeen before the month was out, based on a .324/4/20/1.038 slash line here in 20 games. In other words, he was picking up an RBI a game. Once promoted to Aberdeen, J.D. slowed down slightly with a .278/11/37/.881 OPS in 52 Aberdeen games before an injury ended his campaign a month early. Because he missed some time at the end of the season, it’s not known if he would have made the jump to Bowie like some others did but he may do so early on in 2022. He’s not going to be old (24) for the level he’s at, though.

June’s top position player was Mason Janvrin, who also eventually made it to Aberdeen despite a paltry batting line of .203/10/33/.664 OPS in 82 games here. In the season’s last two weeks Mason went 2-for-17 in 6 Aberdeen games, picking up a couple RBI along the way. Perhaps helping Mason was his being far and away the leader in drawing walks while with Delmarva, picking up a team-leading 47 free passes (second was 28.) Janvrin also led in runs with 68 and stolen bases with 25. Great speed and good batting eye, but not likely to advance much farther without another 60 points on his batting average. He will also be 24 next season.

He came here to succeed J.D. Mundy as primary first baseman, but TT Bowens had his own stellar month in July and soon advanced to Aberdeen himself after Mundy went down. Getting his first taste of pro ball this season, Bowens slashed .237/13/46/.786 OPS in 64 Delmarva games before doing even better in Aberdeen with a .259 average, 5 home runs, and 9 RBI to go with a .772 OPS. With another week or so on the team, Bowens could have been a serious contender for Shorebird of the Year but finished just short of the 2/3 of the season on the roster required. A popular guy here, but sort of a fringe prospect given his NDFA status – however, the improvement from level to level and appropriate age (another 24 year old next season) are plus marks for Bowens.

The only position player to play for the team start-to-finish, Darell Hernaiz won the Shorebird Position Player of the Month honor in August. Because he was here the whole time, Hernaiz led the team in numerous categories: 94 games played, 410 plate appearances, 372 at-bats, 103 hits, 52 RBI, a .277 batting average (as the top qualifier), and 133 total bases. For the season his numbers were .277/6/52/.690 OPS. Hernaiz won’t turn 21 until later on next season so he’s a guy who could make the Aberdeen squad in 2022 but may end up here for a couple months to see if he can get to elite level, like a .300 average with just a bit more pop.

The best of a late-season recharge of 15 players that came for the final 30 games, Coby Mayo won the September position player honors. Starting out in the Complex League, Coby tore the league up to the tune of .329/4/15/1.005 OPS in 26 games before 27 games of .311/5/26/.964 OPS hitting here. He turns 20 over the winter, and is in a similar situation as Hernaiz in that his numbers merit a promotion but his lack of experience may hold him back here until midseason.

Now let’s see how the pitchers did.

I began with Xavier Moore, who parlayed a good month-and-a-half with Delmarva (1-2, but with a 2.89 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, and a 27/11 K/BB ratio in just 18 2/3 innings spread over 7 appearances) into being my May Pitcher of the Month and to a promotion to Aberdeen, where he had the same won-lost record but blew up to a 9.00 ERA in 14 appearances covering 19 innings, where he allowed only 15 hits but a 23/14 K/BB ratio and 5 home runs. He was on a starter’s schedule but only threw an inning or two in each appearance. Moore may come back here to begin next season because he really didn’t show much at Aberdeen. He may be ticketed to be a late-inning guy for us next season; if so, he needs to pitch more frequently. Moore turns 23 over the winter.

June’s Pitcher of the Month was the “work fast, throw strikes” guy Jake Lyons. After putting together a good campaign for Delmarva [4-3, 3.69 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, and 85/34 K/BB ratio in 68 1/3 innings (11 starts in 19 appearances)] he got to pitch 3 games with Aberdeen where he went 0-1, 3.18 in 11 1/3 innings with a 0.971 WHIP and 17/3 K/BB ratio – sort of like he found another gear. He was a consistently good pitcher with Delmarva and should be the same for Aberdeen next season. In fact, Jake led the team in strikeouts but was only 3rd in innings pitched so that should tell you he has good stuff. He won’t be 23 until deep into next season, by which time he could be knocking on Bowie’s door with continued improvement. He could surprise some folks as a 22nd round choice.

In July I selected Noah Denoyer as the Pitcher of the Month. Out of those pitchers who would be closest to qualifying for league honors, Denoyer led in ERA with a 2.87 mark to go with a 5-3 record in 15 appearances (11 starts.) In just 59 2/3 innings Noah allowed but 45 hits and had a 71/25 K/BB ratio. Noah got another 12 innings in 5 appearances with Aberdeen and pitched to a 2.25 ERA and only bumping his WHIP up from 1.173 at Delmarva to an even 1.25 at Aberdeen. Denoyer will turn 24 just before spring training next season but he looks like he belongs with Aberdeen, too. Very good for a guy passed over in the 2019 draft.

Part of a two-player return in the Jose Iglesias trade, my August Pitcher of the Month had the most dominant stretch of the year during his run. Jean Pinto is a pitcher on the rise, moving up after 20 innings of 1.80 ERA, 0.75 WHIP ball in the Complex League to put up good numbers here. No, he didn’t match the almost absurd 28/4 K/BB ratio he had in Florida, but 1-1 with a 2.51 ERA, 56/13 K/BB ratio, and just 29 hits allowed in 46 1/3 innings here may give the 20-year-old (21 in January) Venezuelan a new challenge in Aberdeen to begin next season. He might elbow some older guys out of the way in doing so.

On the other hand, my September Pitcher of the Month may be auditioning to keep his career going. It’s not that Rickey Ramirez did a bad job during his time here, going 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.214 WHIP in 28 innings with a 39/12 K/BB ratio in 18 appearances (16 as closer with 4 saves) but the fact that he’s old for this level (turns 25 next month) and was a Rule 5 pick from the Twins – the sort of guy who gets lumped into the “organization player” category. To keep up, Rickey basically has to make it to Bowie at the end of next season. (To be fair, though, the rebuilding Orioles have given a number of older pitchers their first crack at the Show this season, so there’s still hope for a guy like him.) After all, he endured a disastrous 5 appearances in the Complex League, where his ERA was 8.44, just to get to Delmarva.

*********

Here is a list of my Shorebirds of the Year, going back to the award’s inception in 2006. I’m also adding the Prospect of the Year, in parentheses. Some of these guys are now (or will be come December) in the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, in bold.

  • 2006 – Ryan Finan (Brandon Erbe)
  • 2007 – Danny Figueroa (Brad Bergesen)
  • 2008 – Sean Gleason (Zack Britton)
  • 2009 – Ron Welty (L.J. Hoes)
  • 2010 – Brian Conley (Tyler Townsend)
  • 2011 – David Walters (Jonathan Schoop)
  • 2012 – Brenden Webb (Dylan Bundy)
  • 2013 – Lucas Herbst (Adrian Marin)
  • 2014 – Chance Sisco (Mike Yastrzemski)
  • 2015 – John Means (Jomar Reyes)
  • 2016 – Yermin Mercedes (Ryan Mountcastle)
  • 2017 – Alex Wells (no prospect award)
  • 2018 – Brenan Hanifee (DL Hall)
  • 2019 – Adam Hall (Grayson Rodriguez)
  • 2021 – keep reading (Jordan Westburg)

The biggest problem I had with selecting a 2021 Shorebird of the Year was finding an eligible player. I’ve had a longstanding rule that the player I select as Shorebird of the Year has to spend at least 2/3 of the season here, which would have been 80 games this year. (They did not necessarily have to play all 80 – in the case of a starting pitcher that would have only been 16 starts.)

We cycled through a team-record 74 players this season, and when I say record I mean they smashed the sucker – per Baseball Reference, the highest previous total of Shorebird players in a season I found was 61 back in 2012, the midst of an era of otherwise forgettable 50-odd win teams. But now that Aberdeen isn’t a buffer team below us I suspect this high total will be the rule and my selections will be limited.

Only two position players actually played more than 80 games here this season: Darell Hernaiz, who led the team with 94, and Mason Janvrin with 82. Christopher Cespedes was also on the active roster long enough to qualify, although he only played in 70 games. On the other hand, most of the pitchers who made 15 or more appearances qualified – I think my three exceptions were Gregori Vasquez, Rickey Ramirez, and Jake Zebron. That left a field of 10.

Out of that group, there were really four pitchers and a position player who separated themselves from the field: Noah Denoyer, Jake Lyons, Houston Roth, and Adam Stauffer among the pitchers, and Darell Hernaiz as the position player. Unfortunately, the pitchers didn’t interest me for various reasons:

  • Stauffer threw just 39 innings before his promotion, which isn’t much of an impact.
  • Roth led the team in wins with 8 but faded noticeably at the end of the season to finish with 4.54 ERA, highest among the group.
  • Lyons was perhaps the most consistent in the field but didn’t dominate in any one category.

Out of the group, the best pitcher was Noah Denoyer, whose 2.87 ERA easily led my cadre of qualifiers. Noah put together a great season for an undrafted free agent, but it’s hard to justify giving the award to a guy who threw less than 60 innings this season (and wasn’t a closer.) Compare that to my aforementioned 2012 campaign where, even with all those players, four pitchers exceeded 100 innings (and three of them are SotW Hall of Famers.) In a sign of the times, Roth led this season with 81 1/3.

Fortunately, we had a good, solid qualifying position player, a kid who improved himself most of the year and turned out to be a well above average performer when all was said and done.

After last year’s hiatus, we have an infielder as a SotY for a second straight year. This season it’s Darell Hernaiz.

It was that constant improvement and, quite frankly, the fact that the Orioles left him here to develop which tipped the scales toward Darell Hernaiz. There were a number of guys who, if they had stayed for a few more weeks, would have been contenders but going forward this award may be for the team turtles who advance slowly and steadily.

So all I have left for the 2021 Shorebird season is picks and pans next week, as well as some updates as required to the SotW Tracker before the Hall of Fame induction post scheduled for December 2. All this before we crank up another season with a home debut on April 8, 2022.

Odds and ends number 106

I think you know the drill by now…more items (generally) from my e-mail that pique my interest enough to devote anywhere from a few sentences to a few paragraphs to them. Ready? Let’s go!

Why grifters matter

While I used to love the idea and concept of the TEA Party Express, somewhere along the line they went from being a help to the cause to a hindrance that leeches up valuable resources better suited for local and state races where people can make an impact.

That was the case with a recent e-mail that asked, “Ready to work your tail off to elect a bunch of bland, Democrat-lite Republicans in 2022? Me neither.”

The “me” in question is Sal Russo, a familiar operative with the TPX. And they are targeting three seats next year: Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. Of the three, Hassan is the only one who has served a full term as the other two won special elections last year.

They were looking for $50,ooo, and I can picture how they will spend it: negative ads against the incumbents. Obviously it’s too soon to know which candidates will run in these primary races and perhaps they will get involved to try and tip the scales to, say, a Herschel Walker in Georgia. But as we found out over the last several cycles, the conservative flavor of the day today is the “bland, Democrat-lite Republican” a term or two down the road. Yet that $50,000 could help elect 15 or 20 local conservatives to local races where they can truly be the grassroots. Why fatten the pockets of political consultants?

Start the bus!

As you probably remember, the Tea Party Express made its name by running month-long bus tours across the country. Well, back in August the United Steelworkers did the same thing trying to get the Biden infrastructure bill passed.

This short little tour only lasted a few days and had stops in Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – essentially places with steel manufacturing. But the fact I only heard about it because I’m still on the Alliance for American Manufacturing mailing list means that the union workers have been abandoned by Big Media and the Biden administration (but I repeat myself) as the wrong kind of Democrats.

Flooding the zone

And further speaking of political consultant groups, there are two that are sowing the seeds of destruction in Virginia.

According to this recent piece by the Capital Research Center, two far-left groups have somehow put together the scratch to send out 2 million vote-by-mail applications to selected Virginia voters. About 20 percent of them are destined for one county, Fairfax County. (That place is crazy-left and full of pencil-pushers, as I’ve found out in dealing with them over the last 18 months or so.)

The Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information are to blame for this. In the words of CRC’s Hayden Ludwig, “These groups use IRS rules permitting 501(c) nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan voter registration as a cloak for their blatantly partisan operations. VPC’s website proudly states that it wants to turn out more ‘young people, people of color and unmarried women’—a voting bloc that gave more than 60 percent of its votes for Biden in 2020 and contains 73 percent of all unregistered voters nationwide.” (Emphasis in original.) So it’s not just ANY voter to whom their message is intended or participation solicited.

Unfortunately, these are the electoral blocs most likely to vote against their own self-interest, in this case backing political hack and former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe in his bid to return for a second bite of the apple to destroy that state once and for all. As Ludwig concludes, “Using nonprofits to conduct huge voter registration drives is only one component in the Left’s plan to effectively federalize future elections using vote by mail. This is the new norm in American politics, and sadly for democracy, it’s here to stay.” It is indeed here to stay, but if those on the side of common sense properly educate these voters as to better alternatives it doesn’t have to be that way.

Virginia is a bellwether state in the fact that it has its state elections in odd-numbered years. We knew the potential of a TEA Party wave in 2010 because both Virginia and New Jersey elected GOP governors in 2009, so the messaging is clear for 2022 based on November’s results. If the Democrats stuff the ballot box it makes it look like their agenda has broad support and discourages conservatives, or leads them to foolish investments as in the grifter case above.

Blowing away the windmills

In their haste to provide so-called “renewable” (read: expensive and unreliable) energy for the masses, the federal government is cutting corners and not telling the whole story. That’s the conclusion of David Stevenson, the Director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy, which is part of the Caesar Rodney Institute.

His piece, which conveniently also appeared at the Real Clear Energy website, details a litany of problems with offshore wind that are both environmental and practical. While environmentalists deny that viewshed is an issue during the day, the required lighting for navigation will certainly be seen from the shore at night. And the disruption to the ocean bottom is certainly on a scale with drilling for oil and natural gas, with far less payoff in terms of reliable energy. As Stevenson notes, “The lack of answers to so many critical questions is a direct result of BOEM releasing a ‘Final Environmental Impact Statement’ just nine days after accepting the developer’s permit request. BOEM has provided a target-rich arena for litigation.” That seems like a real rush job – imagine the howling if such a timetable was used for the Keystone XL pipeline.

I honestly believe both wind turbines and oil rigs can co-exist in the ocean, but if I can have only one give me the reliable solution.

She’s back in the running

Because I had this baked in the cake for awhile I figured it could be an “odds and ends” piece. Still, last week we learned that the Delaware GOP is closer to filling out its statewide ballot. It’s now official that 2020 gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray is running to be the next Attorney General for the state of Delaware. (She even kept the same URL and just changed the content.)

One interesting tidbit in the Delaware Live story was that, “win or lose,” she will not run for governor in 2024, even though it would be an open seat as John Carney is term-limited. Unlike Lee Murphy, who never has seemed to find a political race he couldn’t run, Julianne must figure the only way she runs again is as an incumbent, and that makes sense from a professional and personal standpoint.

Since I don’t see a primary challenge for Julianne in the works, it’s likely she would take on current AG Kathy Jennings, a Democrat first elected in 2018 with 61% of the vote. The last Republican AG was current GOP party chair Jane Brady, first elected Attorney General in 1994 and serving two-plus terms before being succeeded by a Democrat appointee in 2005 when she became a judge. Since then there’s been a succession of Democrats in the office, most notably the late Joseph R. Biden III, best known as “Beau” Biden.

15 minute syndrome

There was a piece from Erick Erickson last week where he related:

The (Gabby Petito) story broke a week ago.  It sailed past me until my sixteen-year-old daughter asked what I thought about it.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  My wife, the next day, came home from the gym to ask about it.  A twenty-something young woman at her gym was talking about it.  None of the women over thirty had heard about it.

Erick Erickson, “Regarding Gabby Petito,” September 23, 2021.

If it weren’t for social media, I wouldn’t have known about it either. Sadly, there are probably dozens of similar stories playing out every year but because Gabby Petito had more of a self-created social media following this caught peoples’ attention. Add in the fact that the prime suspect boyfriend is missing as well and now the story has legs.

It’s a case where your mileage may vary, but I grew up in a place and era with a daily big-city newspaper in our paper box that covered “important” local, national, and world news. A distilled version of that national and world content made the network news at 6:30 with Walter Cronkite (that was the station my parents watched) while a shorter version of the “important” local news and on-the-scene reporting was on the 6:00 local news. (For several years we only had two local newscasts; the then-ABC station finally started their local newscast when I was about 10.) The noon local news was more human interest stuff tailored to the stay-at-home moms along with a few headlines and weather and served as the bridge between game shows and soap operas.

We also had a couple very local newspapers that covered news in the rural county where I lived, and it was a BIG deal when I was in one of those papers for some academic achievement. My mom and dad probably still have a few of those clippings, so do I somewhere.

My point in bringing up this personal history is that our expectations of what is and isn’t news were completely changed by the 24/7 news cycle and the internet. And because people can now make and produce their own news content, like me writing on this blog, things like newspaper articles aren’t so treasured. Now if a child wins some honor the parental units plaster it all over their social media. (That may be how we first knew Gabby Petito.)

Bringing it back to Petito’s disappearance and eventual demise, it’s less likely a story like hers would have made the cut back in the era when we had 30 minutes of national news a day. Certainly it would be a sensation in her hometown, but those stories really had to have a hook to be aired on a wider scale.

Yet now we miss the forest for the trees – certainly her family deserves prayers for comfort in their loss and her boyfriend has some ‘splainin to do if he’s still alive and they ever catch up to him if he is, but is the Petito tale a story that has gravitas or impact in our lives? Or is it just a diversion brought forth by a media monster that inhales these stories as content so it doesn’t have to investigate real issues that affect a much larger audience than Petito’s family and social media circle?

I’m going to let you mull on that as I close out this edition of odds and ends.

My carbon offset

Once in awhile you gotta have a light-hearted stack of stuff, and this falls in the category.

The other day I got this as an e-mail from a lady (at least, that’s what I presume based on the name) named Suzy Nguyen from an NGO called 8 Billion Trees. You know I love it when people ask for my opinion!

Hi there,

Hope you’re doing well! 

I’m Suzy from 8 Billion Trees – a tree planting and wildlife conservation organization (NGO).

I’m reaching out to share my story and hope that you would help me spread the words to your audiences/readers so we can together make a change our planet desperately needs! 

We’re living in a critical time of global warming issue, and we HUMANS are the major cause who are responsible for this. We are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and farming livestock. But more than that, do you know that everything you do and consume in daily life can add up to your personal Carbon & Ecological Footprint? And all that together is destroying Earth’s environment.  

As an NGO that specializes and deeply cares about climate change and influences people to be more aware of our impacts on the planet, we have created a Carbon Pollutant Calculator – a FREE tool for anyone to use. The calculator allows someone to find their personal Carbon & Ecological Footprint and have an understanding of crucial steps in lowering their carbon emissions, as well as taking responsibility for the footprints we’re all contributing to. Yes, it’s a nasty consequence of modern life. 

You can easily calculate your own Footprint here: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/carbon-ecological-footprint-calculators/  

And don’t forget to take some time to read our complete guideline to Carbon Offsets: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/ 

I’d love to hear what you think!

Yep, that was their e-mail.

I’m not so sure she will love to hear what I think, but I love to respond to people like this. First of all, I found out that I’m in the top 3 percent in the world when it comes to carbon emissions – their handy-dandy calculator estimated my annual carbon footprint to be 27.78 tons. (Damn, what a slacker I am.) Supposedly, the average for a “global citizen” is 5.29 tons, but since I do productive service work for a living promoting commerce and helping people achieve their dreams in front of an energy-hogging computer and enjoy a 21st century lifestyle with a plethora of labor-saving devices and technology, I think I’ll proudly wear that badge of gluttony.

(That’s why I kept the links in the letter – hopefully I have readers who can beat me on their calculator.)

Now don’t get me wrong: I have zero problem with them planting trees. After all, I grew up in the region of the country where, legend has it, Johnny Appleseed planted thousands of them as a traveling missionary. If 8BT wants to take money donated to them and plant trees with it, I’m good with that. (Even if they come across to some people as a scam.) But when they go on to explain carbon offsets, that’s where the issues begin.

(There’s one interesting section of this diatribe where they go through the various types of renewable energy. It’s interesting to see how little is actually produced despite all the press.)

However, the issue isn’t really with them but with how the concept of offsetting carbon is put into practice through the hand of government. (8 Billion Trees isn’t completely clean of this, though, as they do work with some state-level governments around the globe.) As government does it, the concept is used as a tool of wealth redistribution that keeps busy a cadre of pencil-pushers who could otherwise find more useful work.

And if reducing carbon was truly their goal, they would embrace nuclear energy because it doesn’t use any carbon. (Granted, there has to be some measure of redundancy when their plants close for maintenance, but if there were more nuclear plants we could easily rotate those periods into the loop.) I lived many years getting power from a nuclear plant and we were none the poorer for it.

Now I know I will get an argument from so-called experts who swear up and down that Big Oil got all sorts of subsidies over the years and the handouts and carveouts for renewables are only leveling the playing field. They also say that oil and natural gas are toxins that harm the environment if spilled, which can be true in the immediate timeframe although the earth does a decent job of healing itself over time.

But these same advocates tend to gloss over the detrimental effects of solar panels, which require tons of rare earth materials which are both toxic and hard to come by globally (unless your name is China) as well as covering acres and acres of otherwise productive land. And wind turbines? Forget that their disposal often requires burial in a landfill (taking up space needed for our everyday waste), their low-frequency noise has been linked to health issues, and they are hazardous to aviary health.

And in both cases, cloudy and calm days produce no energy whereas fossil fuels burn regardless of the weather. Their biggest issue seems to be transmission, as Texas found out. (Then again, it stopped the windmills, too.)

So I wish Suzy the best of luck planting trees. I think I have plenty enough in my yard to do the job, and (as an added bonus) some even bear fruit.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: September 2021

If you didn’t know me or didn’t read my website on a regular basis for years, it would be hard to guess what Jacob Julius, Nick Haughian, John Ruettiger, Dariel Delgado, and Mike Burke have in common. Yes, they all played for the Shorebirds but these are the five previous players who were honored in September as a Shorebird of the Week. In years past, whenever the season stretched for more than a handful of days into the month, I would have one last SotW honoree who oftentimes was the best of a small group who were left over as players who hadn’t yet been selected from the season.

This year is different, and may be unique once again. Given the delayed beginning to the season thanks to the CCP virus, we played a total of 17 games in September. It was a meaningful enough number that I decided to have one last crop of Shorebirds of the Month despite the shortened season and this season will be my first without a repeat winner.

If there’s one thing that can be said about Coby Mayo, he certainly has a game face to put on. But the kid had a September to remember, outgunning the more reputed Colton Cowser to be this season’s last Shorebird Position Player of the Month.

In the middle of August, the Shorebirds got a shot in the arm with fifteen new players, most of whom were draftees from 2021. One exception in that group was a player who was drafted in 2020 but was kept in Florida after spring training was completed this season to get a little more seasoning at that level. But all Coby Mayo did for the Shorebirds was slash .344/3/17/1.018 OPS for the month, terrorizing the various pitching staffs of Salem, Carolina, and Fredericksburg along the way.

Drafted in the 4th round of 2020’s abbreviated draft out of Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (yes, it’s that high school), Coby has given those fine folks something to be proud of as he finally made his long-awaited pro debut in the Florida Complex League back in June. Playing mostly for the FCL’s Orioles Black team, Mayo slashed .329/4/15/1.005 OPS in 26 total games before moving up to Low-A as a 19-year-old (he turns 20 in December.)

The third baseman showed no signs of stopping once he arrived here, hitting .311/5/26/.963 OPS and holding down third base in the 27 games he played here (out of 30 possible, a stretch where the team overall went 20-10.) Even with those gaudy numbers, though, there’s no guarantee he’ll be moving up to Aberdeen as the Orioles’ system is suddenly flush with a lot of great prospects on the left side of the infield. Mayo may well be here next April to start the season, but if he keeps up those numbers he won’t be finishing here.

On the other hand, my Pitcher of the Month may remind readers more of those obscure weekly honorees I alluded to earlier.

Coming out of nowhere as a minor league Rule 5 draftee, Rickey Ramirez showed the Low-A East what experience can do. We’ll see if he can return to High-A in 2022 after getting a taste of it in 2019.

Rickey Ramirez didn’t have the dominating month that some prior pitchers of the month have had, but instead was the steadiest of performers and rated high enough in all the categories to win the honor this month. His 10 innings of work this month was sterling, allowing just one earned run and seven hits, striking out 13 while walking three for a WHIP that was an even 1. He even picked up two victories for the month.

Rickey was another pitcher who was started slowly, making five appearances in the Complex League before moving up. And something about his approach must have resonated with the Orioles because the numbers in Florida were pedestrian at best, allowing five earned in 5 1/3 innings. For Delmarva, though, Rickey ended up 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 18 appearances covering 28 innings. He closed out 16 of his 18 appearances, garnering 4 saves (which joined a three-way tie for the team lead with Thomas Girard and Shelton Perkins.)

Unlike Mayo, who was a prized prospect, Ramirez was drafted in the 15th round by the Minnesota Twins out of Fresno State back in 2017. The Californian pitched two seasons in the Twins’ system, topping out at then high-A Fort Myers to begin 2019 but was eventually demoted to low-A Cedar Rapids.

He came to the Orioles as a minor league Rule 5 selection last year, and while these players are often footnotes to their new organizations, the Orioles put the comparative veteran (he turns 25 next month) in some prime spots. But it’s likely his time is running out unless he can latch on with Aberdeen next season because there aren’t many 25-year-old prospects toiling at this level.

As advertised, next week I’ll be revealing my Shorebird of the Year as I wrap up this most unusual of seasons.

The final day

This post is intended to be a pictorial diary of a day in the life, but it’s more than that.

I jokingly refer to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium as my “summer home” since I spend a lot of time there each season. Last Sunday they played their final home game against the Fredericksburg Nationals, and while I normally take my 35mm camera to get the player photos I use for Shorebird of the Month, I also have my cell phone to get the obligatory picture I take and share on my social media.

In years past, though, I did more of a social media story on the last day but since I had companions for the game this season I was a little bit too engaged for that. In fact I sort of forgot I took these until I cleaned out my cell phone photos today – luckily, the pictorial is still appropriate because today was the Shorebirds’ actual finale as they finished on the road at Salem.

So most of the rest of this goes in with my long-standing “pictures and text” format. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this fan’s perspective.

Here we are, the front entrance to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. Through those front doors awaits another episode in the continuing saga of young men living out their dream of being paid to play baseball. One thing I’ve noticed this season is that the steps have seldom been used for gates to the upper levels. That may have been a staffing shortage issue.
My first stop on this last game – which is always Fan Appreciation Day – was to drop my name into a bucket for full- and half-season ticket holders to have a chance to win prizes. It was a little different this season, probably due to the pandemic, in that winners didn’t randomly select their prizes on the dugout between innings.
This was a sampling of what all the fans, including but not limited to season ticket holders, could win. This year I kept alive my 16-season string of never getting my ticket number or name drawn, as did those who I was there with. It didn’t look like the swag was quite as valuable as it was in prior years but that’s all up to the sponsors and they’re probably feeling tough times as well.
This concession stand, which was renamed this season, is generally my first stop once I get situated at my seat. I’ll get into this aspect more when I do “picks and pans” next month, but I have no complaints about Carolyn and her helpers. A lot of times this season this was one of only 4 or 5 stands running when the park has (by my count and memory) 8 concession spaces. I’m sure that’s another staffing issue.
Back at my seat, with the teams warming up. You can see part of the 9/11 tribute they painted onto the field after the game on the 10th. I was thinking about it, and since 9/11 occurred in 2001 this is probably the first time they’ve played at home on the date – the season normally ended Labor Day and since 9/11 occurred they had not made it beyond the first round of the SAL playoffs, meaning our games was done well before the 11th of September. The delayed start this season allowed us to play that late in the summer for the first time.
He’d probably hate me for putting this up because he’s a “behind the scenes” type, but Shorebirds General Manager Chris Bitters always takes a few minutes before the final game to thank the fans and staff. It’s hard to believe that, in a field where staff turnover is the norm, that we’ve had Chris around for almost 15 years (and his assistant Jimmy Sweet for about as long.) This season he acknowledged what a difficult campaign it was to put together given all the uncertainty and lack of staff (like about 30 food service workers in a summer where the normal number is over 100) but was pleased the fans came out. And, most importantly to me, we actually played this summer.
I know this wasn’t the first pitch, but it was early on in the action. It was a nice afternoon for baseball but the Shorebirds were down 2-0. The FredNats got an early lead off pitcher Jean Pinto, who came on in the second inning to relieve the rehabbing Ty Blach, who pitched a scoreless first. Pinto eventually settled down to allow just the two runs in six innings.
The game progressed on a warm, sunny afternoon. One difference, though, between this and most other games was that there were no between-inning promotions because they were drawing winning numbers for the raffles at those times. So Sherman got to skip out on a couple things he was normally involved in, like the mascot race where he always figures out some way to overconfidently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory over a little kid. Yet one tradition that remained was the chicken dance that came at the end of the seventh inning, a frame where the Shorebirds finally got the lead for the first time, 3-2. They were primed to make a winner out of Pinto.
Instead, it turned out to be an exciting finish after all. The FredNats tied it in the top of the eighth but the good guys got a single by Connor Norby to lead off their half then, two outs later, Billy Cook singled him in to give the Shorebirds their winning 4-3 margin. Despite giving up the tying run in the eighth, Daniel Lloyd picked up the win.

As you can see, this one was closed out almost in record time as they finished in 2 1/2 hours. We were leaving the park at about the same time we would come in for a normal Sunday game in the summer that starts at 5:05. (In the spring months, they start at 2:05 like this one did.)

Also unlike a lot of seasons, we have not yet seen the schedule for next year. (We knew what the 2020 schedule was supposed to look like in mid-August 2019, for example.) From the schedules I have seen for the AAA level, it looks like minor league baseball will retain its six-game blocks for the most part as well as the Monday day off, with the exception of playing on Memorial Day and Independence Day. Teams will be switching venues between Sunday, July 3 and Monday, July 4 so that all teams will have a chance at a fireworks night (which was an omission on the 2021 schedule.)

It also appears we would go back to a more traditional schedule where the season begins in April and ends on the Sunday before Labor Day. Having a 22-week season (132 games) as we are now supposed to have for low-A ball would then slot the opener for us on April 5, 2022.

If so, then my count for waiting is anywhere from 198 to 205 days, depending on where we open. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there.

As I’m finishing this, the Shorebirds are finishing as well. They held on to win the finale 9-7, knocking their opponent Salem out of the playoffs as well. We finish the season 68-52.

A “monoblogue music” 2021 post-pandemic update (part 2)

Best laid plans of mice and men, right? I was hoping to get to this sooner and get it off my plate, but like I said back in part 1 I had some listening to do so it took a wee bit longer than I thought.

So when I left y’all, I was just about to talk about the bands that made my top 5 in 2017, which then would begin with the “indie protest band” Revolushn. They’re still at it, pointing to the release of a new album later this year that will likely follow in the vein of a messy but enjoyable single they put out in 2020 called Electric.

Next up for 2017: I’m going to skip ahead to 2019 a bit, because Rich Lerner and the Groove was one of two bands to appear twice on my Top 5 list. They’re just days away from Groove Jam X, the annual event they put on to assist food banks around their Greensboro, North Carolina home. After having to do Groove Jam IX online thanks to the CCP virus, they were excited to return to Doodad Farm and return to an outdoor show. Pray for good weather and a bumper crop of donations to feed their local hungry families. Sure, the band does the occasional show otherwise but this seems to be their main focus now.

Unfortunately, I think Justin Allen and the Well Shots have gone on a permanent hiatus because their last social media dates to 2018. And while Free Willy is still on social media, there’s been no new music or shows to report from them as a group.

Finally for the 2017 crop, Freddie Nelson stayed busy during the COVID shutdown with several live streams and recorded a version of a Leonard Cohen song called Hallelujah. It was a jarring departure from his usual upbeat style, stripped down to his tuned-down electric guitar and vocals.

Compared to the 2017 honorees, though, the 2018 group has been busy beavers.

Let’s start with Maxwell James, who put out a very enjoyable and dramatic 4-song EP called “Wheels” back in 2019 that, according to my Spotify chart on number of plays, didn’t attract nearly as much notice as it deserved. He’s an artist that could be at home in an adult contemporary type of venue like the Freeman Stage.

Geoff Gibbons has released a few country-tinged singles since we last checked in on him, with the latest being Keep On Drivin’ from 2020. But according to Spotify, his most successful was 2019’s Lately. He’s also been busy in a duo called KaseoGems and playing in a band with one of the best names I’ve heard in awhile, New Yank Yorkies.

Peak has an upcoming album in the works called “Choppy Water” and has done a number of regional dates to support its eventual release.

While Jared Weiss hasn’t been making music in the traditional “let’s get a band together, hit the road, and make an album” sense, he’s still been busy compiling an “interpretation” of Bob Dylan that’s played in New York since 2019 and is slated for a national tour in 2022. So his solo stuff seems to be on the shelf.

Justin Shapiro moved himself from the DC area to south Florida and has kept himself occupied doing solo gigs every weekend. Nice work if you can get it. Musically, 2020 brought a full-length album called “Away In Your Dreams” that I’m certain makes up a part of his shows. If there were a 2020 top 5, it’s likely his album would have been a contender thanks to his brand of groove rock (with the occasional ballad) that reminds me of an edgier Jimmy Buffett. (Maybe that’s why south Florida works for him?)

On to my last year of 2019, which is shorter because I had two reruns of artists who had been featured before. It gets even briefer because we haven’t heard much from Future Thrills since the pandemic began, and the local music scene isn’t too conducive to more activity.

Of course, you could create your own music scene by going on tour, and that’s what Benny Bassett is doing. He was all over the western part of this country over the summer playing everything from clubs to private parties, presumably soliciting support for a new album upcoming in 2022. I guess I need to get on better guest lists to be at parties where Benny is.

Finally, Lord Sonny the Unifier released a four-song EP last fall called “All New Information.” While they claim their sound has “evolved with the times” there comes a point where it’s a little too fuzzed-out and inaccessible, a weird mix of goth rock, New Wave, and random noise. Still like the guitar parts, though. Regardless, they’re working on new projects as we speak.

That, then, is the wrapup. Thanks to Jake Eddy for giving me the kick in the butt to finally finish this, nine months overdue. Since it took so long to get this one I will likely hold off on the next one until early 2023, if I don’t forget.