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.

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 little out of practice

I’m running a little late on this, and this is definitely in the category of a lighthearted personal post.

For those of you new around these parts, a tradition that’s been around almost as long as there’s been monoblogue is the selection of a Shorebird of the particular timeframe – until the end of the 2016 season I did this weekly, now I do it monthly but select both a pitcher and a position player. And since I’ve moved to Delaware and opened up the audience a bit, I probably should remind people that the first Thursday of each month during baseball season is reserved for my two honorees. Had the season began in its regular timeframe, this coming Thursday would have been the first installment. And boy, did I miss it at times last year!

So the reason I said I was late is that I time the posts for 7:00 Thursday night, which is the time the Shorebirds begin their games. If it’s a Thursday and the Delmarva nine is home, I am usually there so this fills any gap I have.

Anyway, what reminded me to do this post was the news the other day that the Orioles had promoted pitcher Jay Flaa to the team. It was an agate-type sort of promotion, as the pitcher only stayed for two days before being sent back to the Alternate Training Site in Bowie, but it made a little bit of history for me. Counting Flaa, a total of 49 players who were selected to be Shorebirds of the Week (or Month) have now reached The Show. (One has made it twice, first as a player and now as a coach.) There have been seasons where I didn’t have three make the bigs all season, especially early on, but with Flaa’s promotion I had three new members of the Hall of Fame in less than a month to start the season – all called up to the Orioles. Usually if I get three in a month, it’s September when rosters expand, so to have it in April means this could be a huge season. (Conversely, the change in roster rules to expand to only 28 in September means opportunities for a callup are fewer.)

So to prove I’m just an armchair analyst, this is what I wrote back in December when I weighed the prospects of the upcoming Class of 2021: “The HoF may only have 2 or 3 next year, although there’s big potential for surprises thanks to this lost season.” I guess you can color me surprised since I already have three, one of whom (Flaa) I didn’t hold out a great deal of hope for.

Yet the way baseball is going, I may have a class like I did a decade ago when I had seven honorees. Hopefully they will collectively be better, since that Class of 2011 had 4 guys who didn’t play in the majors beyond 2011 and two others who were (or have been) 4A players. (It also has Zack Britton, who has carved out a nice career for himself.) Those were pretty lean times in the Orioles’ system.

So if you see me on social media acting the fanboy about the prospects of another member of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, now you may understand why. And I can’t wait to get it going again, both for the Hall of Fame and the Tracker.

A supportive Second Amendment solution

Some days I impress myself. So as not to let good writing go to waste, I’m going to extend some remarks in this forum.

My Congressional representative that I’m saddled with, Lisa Blunt Rochester, came up with this pablum today:

We, as a country, should be ashamed by this graphic. I remain committed to supporting common sense gun violence prevention policies and to ending this scourge.

Social media post by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, April 16, 2021.
May be an image of map and text that says 'Gresham MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE PAST MONTH Stockton Cleveland Orange Essex Philadelphia Baltimore River Grove Chicago Indianapolis Boulder Memphis Aliceville Dallas Yazoo City Houston Atlanta Washington, DC Norfolk Virginia Beach Tuscaloosa Wilmington CNNI NEWSROOM'

So I wrote this in response (no blockquote here):

The key to “ending this scourge” isn’t in “common sense gun violence prevention policies” – at least not those expressed by draconian gun laws that infringe on our rights. Problem is, though, the solution is not a quick fix so you can’t run on “doing something about it.”

When the value of life is cheapened to that of pixels on a video game and the culture is such that any slight needs to be addressed with getting a gun and shooting someone, that is the problem.

For decades, rural kids grew up around guns and had access to them, but you didn’t hear about mass shootings despite their proliferation because they were given a moral foundation that taught respect for life and for others. That’s been lost in this world of today, and I think it’s the “participation trophy” generation at fault. I grew up in a rural area and have plenty of respect for weapons because I know the damage they can do if misused.

We are not always going to get our way in life. The Indianapolis shooting sounds like many others: a combination of perceived slights and lack of ability to deal with failure or rejection by a troubled young man. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory and take those who he blamed for his problems with him. That’s not the fault of millions of law-abiding gun owners who use their guns for self-protection, hunting, etc.

Most of all, we need our guns to keep the government honest. The county sheriff where I used to live openly expressed his refusal to participate in any sort of gun confiscation program, saying he wouldn’t send his deputies out on a suicide mission. He was right, and that’s why there’s a Second Amendment – it makes tyrants think twice.

That may sound like a paranoid way of thinking, but I think I understand human nature and once a government gets a whiff of tyrannical power they don’t give it back easily.

*****

I also wanted to add that we have no idea how the perpetrator got his gun and he’s not alive anymore to speak to the subject, going out in the “blaze of glory” I referred to above. Something tells me he probably got it legally, falling in the cracks of the system we have due to his young age (although it depends on what he used as a weapon – only rifles and shotguns are legal for purchase for those over 18 but under 21.)

Should we be ashamed by the graphic? Actually, we should because we are failing ourselves as a society when we confuse a means to preserve our life with a means to end those of others. The shame isn’t in the tool but in the attitude, since we will never know just how many with access to a gun who got angry or frustrated enough to go out and shoot whoever thought better of it when they remembered the life lesson that death is forever and life can be better tomorrow once the situation blows over. That’s what faith is about.

I doubt many of these mass shooters were right with God, but as long as we all breathe life there’s always the opportunity to become so. At that point we realize we have a tool for self-defense, feeding the family, and keeping would-be tyrants in line.

Mt. Hermon Plow Days 2021 in pictures and text

It felt good to be out of the rain. No, actually, to shorten up the song lyric, it felt good to be out.

In thinking about doing this post, I got to pondering how long it had been since I’d done a “pictures and text” post – turns out it’s been over two years. These were once staples of my site, but frequency decreased as I became less active politically. It was understandable about the last year since most events (including the proposed 2020 rendition of Plow Days) were scrubbed, but I can’t figure out what happened to 2019. I guess a lot of it was consumed by our house hunting and move, plus a couple family vacations along the way.

Anyway, the nice thing about using the newer version of WordPress is the more intuitive captioning feature so you can truly have pictures and text.

A little about this event: it was the fourteenth annual rendition, although I’m not sure if last year’s scrubbed event was deemed the thirteenth annual or not. While I don’t believe it’s an official ministry of the Salisbury Baptist Temple, many of those involved locally are also active in that church. As they describe it, “We invite you to take a step back in time and learn how country people lived a century ago when rural America had no electricity and very few tractors.”

As far as my history with Mt. Hermon Plow Days goes, I think this is the third or fourth one I’ve attended and what I recall about the previous events was that it generally seemed cold and windy. Perhaps it was the extra week in April – Plow Days’ traditional date is the first Saturday in April but this year that fell on Easter weekend – but as you’ll see, the weather was warm and sunny. I got a little bit of sun to be sure.

I decided to place these in the order I took them.

This was the midway when we arrived around 11:30. As you can see, there were quite a few people who were already in shirt sleeves checking out the wares of about ten or twelve vendors selling everything from jelly to cookware to pottery. There was also a petting zoo along here, which I will return to shortly.
These were some of the implements old-time farmers used behind their horses. Each had a little sign with its name and particular use.
We’ve seen this stagecoach a lot during the summer because they keep it at Salisbury Baptist Temple and use it as part of their “Summer Fun” weekly camps. The sign in the background reads “A Day in the Life of a Plower’s Wife” and there were exhibits regarding that as well.
Visitors also got to try their hand at plowing a row behind the horses. It was also a chance for kids to see the horses up close, which they enjoyed. I’m sure it’s a tough and bumpy ride.
Not only were there horses there, but also mules (hey, they can pull a plow, too.) They took their turns pulling, although I think this guy was there more for showing the kids.
Lucky kids got to ride in the rumble seat of this old beauty. It wasn’t quite a century old (the front plate said 1930 as I recall) but close enough. Seemed to run pretty well, although I didn’t get to see if it came under its own power or on a trailer.
The leader of the band, so to speak, is Oren Perdue. The founder of Salisbury Baptist Temple, Pastor Perdue is still active with this event (as well as with his church and the Summer Fun camp, although he’s handed those day-to-day reins to others.) I think I’ve featured the good Pastor a couple times in my coverage of the Wicomico County Fair, where we’ve played hooky from our church to attend his annual service there.
A closer view of how the professionals do it. Not sure which of the seven teams featuring 11 different drivers this was, but they came to this event from as far away as North Carolina. It was actually a down year for participation – because the event was pushed back a week from normal, a few teams didn’t come out. Normally we have teams from five or six states.
This was part of the “Plower’s Wife” exhibit I referred to. There were also three tents on the other side of the steps, but I didn’t like how that photo came out so you just get this one.
I don’t think they were selling autographs, but it was nice that people had an opportunity to ask questions and generally make these visitors feel welcome. Many of them have made it to most of the renditions of Mt. Hermon Plow Days, which has become an April tradition for them. Also, I believe the vehicle in the lower right of the shot belonged to one of the local TV stations so they were out covering the event, too.
This is my “awwwww” factor shot. Not many kids can resist the opportunity to pet these kids. (Nor can my wife!) Just wash your hands and make sure to sanitize after stopping by the petting zoo along the midway.
Actually, it was a good idea to wash your hands anyway because there was food there – not just these three food trucks, but also a tent selling oyster sandwiches (that closed early due to high demand), a former short bus selling slushies, and a booth with kettle korn. My wife waited in line 40 minutes while I took a few of the photos above and grabbed a shady picnic table spot. Next year they might need a couple more trucks!
The last photo is of the midway from the other side – I believe the line to the left was at the souvenir shirt booth. As you can see, the kids had plenty to do besides the animals.

A couple things I missed in my trip around: one was the band, which was a five-piece string group called (what else) the Mt. Olivet String Band. They were just finishing up by the time I walked over there, so I caught them breaking down and that’s not a good picture. I also missed the introduction of dignitaries (generally Wicomico County local politicians and a couple media personalities) who were there. I saw the politicians enough in the last ten years, so I didn’t get up from eating lunch to grab photos. (I did cross paths with Sheriff Mike Lewis enough to say a quick “hi” as he rushed by.)

And we didn’t stay long enough to check out the horse-powered treadmill shelling corn.

If they can guarantee the same weather for next year, we may swing by again. Just teasing – I’m sure we will stop by if our schedule allows. Plow Days is a nice introduction to spring and I’m glad it came back without the wokescolds complaining about how few out of the 1,500 to 2,000 I’m guessing were there yesterday for at least part of the time were wearing face diapers.

It was great to feel back to normal for a day.

The loan repaid

Rush Limbaugh always confided that he had “talent on loan from God.” This morning the bill came due.

We can’t say that his passing was unexpected, given Limbaugh’s announcement in early 2020 that he had stage 4 lung cancer. At the time I wrote that it would be a dicey proposition for him to make it to the election, let alone his 70th birthday. In fact, he made both and even made it into his eighth decade by about a month.

For the most part, I wrote my history with Rush and how he affected my political life upon his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. But there was one thing I left out of that narrative, which was another retelling of my chance to speak to El Rushbo.

October 5, 2007 was an Open Line Friday, which meant I could listen to the entire show because I worked (and do once again) half-day Fridays at work. So I had the motive, means, and opportunity to ask him a question about how his reading habits had changed in creating his “stack of stuff.” Back in the day, he talked about reading several newspapers but once the internet and blogs came to be, he was using that medium to prepare his stack. In truth, I was looking for good sites to link to but he also graciously allowed me the opportunity to plug this little old site.

And what did I get? A Rushalanche that knocked out my server for a bit. Over the years, I have kept the transcript of that call as a private page but today I’ll open it up in case you want to read my attempt at making the host look good. I was shocked that I got through and was the call out of the 1:30 Eastern break.

One big difference between the world of 2007 and the present day, however, is the ubiquitous social media we have now. So once I was informed by my boss – who was listening to the show as he usually does in his office – that Rush had passed, I took a few minutes to peruse social media to see what other thoughts there were. Luckily I don’t have a lot of liberal friends and for the most part they have kept it restrained.

I also read that the future plans for Limbaugh’s show are to have guest hosts, but they would be there as facilitators of the countless hours of content Rush prepared for his wing at the Museum of Broadcasting, so that much of the talking would be done by Rush – basically a long-term “best of” broadcast but tuned to the breaking news of the day where possible. When you figure that he had thirty-plus years of 15 hours a week on the air, that’s over 20,000 hours of radio classified as the “grooveyard of forgotten favorites.”

Regardless of how much longer Rush’s show can and will be carried by the 600-plus stations that comprised the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, the fact that he pioneered the nationalization of conservative political talk radio and made the 12-to-3 time slot required radio listening means he won’t soon be forgotten. Surely there will be efforts made to diminish his impact or insult his memory in the most vile of ways, but when you have “talent on loan from God” the end results will remain in place for awhile.

Rest in peace, Rush. My prayers for comfort and lasting good memories are with your family and vast circle of friends.

Pleasing predictions: the update

I actually have a weightier subject in mind for my next post, but I also have plenty going on surrounding my other side hustles so I decided to act on this one first.

Way back in December we learned that Delmarva would remain as an affiliate of the Orioles, becoming the low non-complex team on their totem pole. A few days later I noted a couple possible scenarios for the newly-revamped SAL as either two six-team divisions or three four-team pods. Turns out the powers that be in Major League Baseball who are now running the minor league show opted for the latter arrangement, exactly as I selected them.

What they sadly did not do (at least for the moment) was retain the South Atlantic League name, instead putting us in the generically-named Low A East. Hopefully they decide to maintain the longtime moniker since the league will now better reflect that geography.

The next step, of course, will be getting a schedule of 132 games – because of the CCP virus, the Shorebirds will not begin their season until May. This, of course, means that the back end of the season will be extended, perhaps into early October. (As part of that, however, I thought I read that there would be no playoffs – so, of course in that case Delmarva will be loaded this season.) They are also looking to minimize travel so I would expect a heavy intra-division schedule – my thought is that the Shorebirds will probably do two eight-game trips into each of the other divisions (i.e. Augusta/Columbia, Myrtle Beach/Charleston, Fayetteville/Kannapolis, Down East/Carolina) while we would be paired up with Fredericksburg for the returns.

If this is indeed the case, we could play the South and Central teams eight times each (four home/four away) for a total of 64 games. Of the remaining 68 games, they may decide that we see Lynchburg and Salem 20 times apiece (10 home, 10 away) and Fredericksburg 28 times (14 and 14) to minimize travel. It would remind some longtime fans (I’m looking at you, Karl) of the 2008 season, when high fuel prices dictated a steady diet of Hagerstown, Lakewood, and Lake County for about half of our 70 scheduled home games. (At least Fredericksburg is something of a natural rival as the Nationals affiliate, while most of the others are good geographic pairings. The North Carolina teams could almost play a round robin as they are quite close together comparatively.)

Of course I will miss the natural rivals we gained over the years as Hagerstown was dropped entirely from the MiLB lineup and Lakewood became Jersey Shore and moved up a level to high-A, playing (among others) the Aberdeen Ironbirds. But change isn’t unusual at this level: in the 16 years since I began attending Shorebird games, the SAL lost two teams to the Midwest League, had two teams move to new locations, a couple change names, and eight affiliation changes. The league has seldom stayed constant for more than a year or two.

The constant I’m looking for right now, though, is my behind constantly in a seat at the ballpark. Just let me know when to be there.

2020: a monoblogue year in review

I was very tempted not to do this – because who really wants to relive 2020 – but for posterity’s sake decided to go with it. In truth, this may be one of the shorter reviews I’ll ever do.

At the dawn of the year in January I wanted to take my writing in a new direction while examining the state of the TEA Party. That dearth of posts was made up for somewhat in February as I took a hard look at our political duopoly and played a second season of fantasy baseball. (Will there be a third? Stay tuned.) I suppose it was prophetic for this year that I was looking for the reset button, but not for the obvious reason.

It seems like forever ago, but remember when we heard that Rush Limbaugh had advanced-stage lung cancer and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union? (It’s more famous now for Nancy Pelosi’s speech treatment.) It was a rush to condemn, and I discussed it twice. Meanwhile, that long series on the Democrat contenders I began in March 2019 finally came to an end with the not-so-elite eight only for me to begin a new series on splitting the opposition – a look at the Indivisible movement, which continued in March with a look at its founders.

In that pre-pandemic era, I was surprised by some turns in the Democrat presidential race (looking back, the biggest shock was yet to come!) But what really got me was the hype vs. the reality regarding the CCP virus and how the world was placed on hold and eventually became a business state of emergency. Suddenly the state of the TEA Party didn’t seem as important.

After some server issues knocked me offline for a time in April, I returned to talk about a clash of the titans in my erstwhile political home, the Maryland GOP. The other clash I got into was the beginning of the anti-lockdown movement – remember 15 days to slow the spread? Some people actually took them at their word.

It was also the first anniversary of Rise and Fall, so I commemorated the event with a look in the rearview mirror.

The merry month of May brought the final installment of one of Maryland’s few remaining conservative blogging outlets, so I had my thoughts about my former cohorts at Red Maryland. But I also had some fun rebutting a request to talk about the National Popular Vote movement. (We now see why it’s so ill-thought out.)

That month the Delaware political scene began to fire up, first with Governor Carnage pulling the football out from First State businesses then my look at the statewide Delaware political races: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I ended the month by detailing my weekend to remember.

June began with a long-neglected category of odds and ends, and continued with the conclusion of the long-neglected series on splitting the opposition. It also touched on the controversy regarding the Talbot Boys statue in Easton, which is still standing despite opposition.

Also still standing is the District of Columbia, which some want to make into a state despite the Constitutional mandate that it be a district. But who cares about the Constitution when it gets in the way of political power?

I do care about the Constitution Party, but it got some troubling news during that month, while the Delaware GOP field for governor expanded to five. Just as July began, though, one of the top contenders withdrew and endorsed another.

The sad news to begin the month was the season that never was, and I commemorated Independence Day with an encore performance of a post from 2016. I also came back with a fresh helping of odds and ends.

Our Delaware political races finally came into shape, with the added benefit of the now semi-annual monoblogue Accountability Project.

But most of the subsequent three months was devoted to perhaps my most devoted long-term project: a dossier series covering statewide candidates in both federal and state races. Thanks to that, I didn’t write on another topic until September when I finally discussed a day for adulting. I also made it three editions of odds and ends for the year.

Since it was time for the Delaware primary, I also got to make my fearless forecasts and found they were prescient picks. A few days later, the nation was stunned by the need for the notorious RBG replacement.

It was me that needed the replacement when October began. My trusty old laptop finally quit so I had to get a new one, which explained my absence. Later that month, I endorsed my choices for Delaware and asked if my former home in Wicomico County would lose its Republican County Council majority in a special election.

We had the election in November. The first thing I did was to admit I should never say never. I did even more odds and ends, including a milestone. Predictions were made and results were analyzed. And we also found out that people are leaving certain networks and social media outlets because they find them too biased against their point of view.

Oddly enough, I didn’t do a Thanksgiving post (part of the reason being we were away) but I considered once again the fate of the Constitution Party and defined some rights as the month wore on. It all led to December, which as is traditional led off with my anniversary post and the induction of the newest class of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

The month actually had a lot of news about the Delmarva nine, as their fate in the revamped world of minor league baseball was revealed. It allowed me to make some pleasing non-political predictions.

I still found out that the Delaware General Assembly wasn’t waiting to come up with bad ideas and the Constitution Party wasn’t waiting to come up with excuses for their lack of performance in November.

Wrap it up with my annual Christmas post, and that’s how my year went. It went really slow and really quickly all at the same time.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2020

Perhaps this is the perfect metaphor for this bastard of a year: I write remotely (socially distant) from the readers.

Maybe this is a question for those who are north of 80 years of age, but was Christmas during wartime like this? I sometimes feel like this is the style of holiday we may have commemorated circa 1942, a point where the shock and novelty of volunteering after Pearl Harbor wore off and people whose hometowns lost their native sons in the Second World War were commemorating an otherwise solemn holiday. Instead of a war against imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, though, we’re fighting this time against a Chinese germ that’s fighting dirty with increased overdoses and suicides taking quite a toll on our youth.

Regardless, we must press on, and our biggest asset in that regard is the One who sent His son to be our sacrifice, that Savior whose birth we are celebrating tomorrow. In a time where the highway signs are telling us to stay home, they don’t quite get the message right. My simple prayer this Christmas is that my readers come home, returning to a life with its priorities in order: God and family first, “stuff” somewhere toward the end.

I don’t recall where I got the suggestion from, but back around Thanksgiving I saw an item where it was suggested that beginning December 1, people read a chapter of the Book of Luke each night. This story of Jesus would culminate on Christmas Eve since there are 24 chapters, beginning with the angels visiting Mary to tell her she would be the virgin mother and concluding with His resurrection after the Crucifixion. Yes, I’m giving you a really late start for a lengthy read in one evening but it’s definitely doable, and illustrates well why we celebrate.

So tomorrow my site will be dark. Over the weekend I may come up with something, but for this moment: Merry Christmas.

Hard to believe: monoblogue turns 15

I’m definitely into the moody teenage stage now.

Pretty much every year on December 1st I do a retrospective of where monoblogue has been and where it might just go in the next year. While I actually began this a few days in advance because our family’s plans included a trip away, the fact remains that 2020 and the CCP virus definitely affected my initial plans. (Well, that and a few technical hiccups and the need for a new laptop.)

So I really haven’t made it into some of the internal plans I had regarding creating my author site, and updating photos and such on old posts…truth be told, I sort of forgot about it with everything else going on. (We had these local and national political races, don’cha know?) Maybe this coming year, if I can find the time – you never know when you may need that author site. 🙂

One thing I can say about 2020 is that what seemed like a so-so year for readership has really caught fire in the last three months. Turns out that year-to-date I am already at my best year since 2016, which was when I stopped doing daily posts. And this came to pass right about the time I was doing my dossier series, which is probably the most lengthy-term, multi-part project I’ve ever done on this site insofar as focusing on one subject. It was sort of a blessing in disguise that I did not have Shorebird of the Month to deal with; however, that’s not to say I didn’t miss doing them!

In looking up my post output, though, that dossier series made a serious dent in my numbers. Once upon a time I came close to a post a day, but so far this year it’s only about a post and a half a week – granted, I essentially did my dossier series two to three times but all that counted as one post since I simply updated. Since I don’t see a similar series until 2024 because there’s neither a governor’s race nor a scheduled Senate race, I think posting in 2021 will get back to its 2 to 3 times a week, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. It depends as always on how inspired I am.

One thing that inspired me recently is rereading some of what I wrote the last time our nation was in this particular pickle of shifting from Republican to Democrat, the early part of 2009. In truth, perhaps I should freshen up the three lessons I provided because I think they still mostly ring true. There is definitely the potential for TEA Party 3.0 if we can do it right this time and kick out the grifters and con artists.

While this website has always been about what interested me, longtime readers know about my fondness for thinkers like Newt Gingrich, Thomas Sowell, and Victor Davis Hanson. They’re the type whose understanding of history makes their commentary timeless and evergreen. In doing a post a day I sort of got away from that, but at this slower pace I’d like to believe I can provide this service to readers who wish to be missionaries for the secular cause of Constitutional thought. (In part, that’s because it paves the way for the more traditional role of missionary as one who brings the Good News of Jesus Christ.)

So I suppose I am off and running on year number 16 – the website domain was renewed and it’s still with the same server company (or, actually, its successor since they’ve changed hands a couple of times.) As long as the Good Lord gives me life and the ability to convert my thoughts into these blog posts I’ll be here, standing athwart of what seems to be a trend in history to backslide toward tyranny. It’s still a lot of fun for me, so why stop now?

The exodus

There’s little question this election season will rank among the most divisive in our history. The seemingly irreconcilable differences between the populists and conservatives who backed Donald Trump and the liberals and bohemians who either supported or held their noses to vote for Joe Biden have qualified this as perhaps the most bitter balloting since 1860 – and we all know what happened after that one.

I would also submit to you that the amount of yellow journalism in this election was comparable to those long-ago races where partisan newspapers were unafraid to make up or amplify rumors about the opponents of their favored candidates. After all, we went through three-plus years of a trumped-up (pun intended) media-driven impeachment while those same organs basically ignored a potential blackmail scandal affecting Joe Biden and his son Hunter that erupted just three weeks before the election. Maybe they “learned” their lesson from the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal that came to a crescendo just days before the election in 2016 and perhaps cost her an election that the media assured us was in the bag for her.

The biggest differences, however, between the modern day campaign and those elections of long ago are the speed of communication and lifestyle. In Lincoln’s day, the telegraph was in its early stages of development and news more often came from local newspapers. It may have taken a week for some to find out who won the election, and that’s if they purchased a copy of the local newspaper. While the newspaper industry of 1860 may have pitted rival against rival because they preferred different papers that backed opposing politicians, the news didn’t dominate the lives of common folk who were more interested in working for their survival as farmers or laborers or headed a household full of children to raise. It was truly the 1% who had enough leisure time to debate the political.

Now we have 24/7 cable news, but more importantly we have social media as a means of information and communication – and the reason we have social media is because we have evolved our lifestyles to a point where even those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder have time to follow the news or at least keep up with the culture. No longer are religion and politics taboo subjects for discussion; in fact, having no political opinion makes you the outlier. Either you’re on the red team or the blue team these days. (By not voting or voting third party, in the eye of the beholder you are the opposition.)

So if you’ll pardon the long introduction, my point is that, over the last month or so, we have seen a breakup that follows the political in the arena of social media, one which has accelerated since the election and grown to include the modern-day equivalent of the local newspaper.

I had never heard of Parler before this summer, but back in June there was an early move toward the social network based on issues with Twitter, for which Parler is considered the closest cousin. I jumped onto Parler on June 22, but to be honest I use it much the same way I use Facebook except I don’t post as much. (Part of this was that I never cared for Twitter.) Since the runup to the election with its constant reminders to go vote and the so-called “fact checking” exceedingly applied to conservative viewpoints – while liberals are unquestionably taken at face value – the growth of Parler has been exponential.

Joining Parler on the growth list are a couple of news channels. All summer there were rumblings among the conservative set that “fair and balanced” Fox News was no longer as fair or balanced. These rumblings grew louder with Chris Wallace’s hard-hitting interview of President Trump in July and his widely panned mishandling of moderator duties during the first Presidential debate. Strike three, however, was Fox News’s willingness on election night to call Arizona quickly for Joe Biden while slow-walking calls on states Trump eventually won handily, such as Florida.

Since the election, thousands of Trump supporters have vowed to stop watching Fox (even if it’s only the programming outside popular shows they still have featuring Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity) and they’re flocking to upstarts One America News and NewsMax TV, which have featured a more pro-Trump viewpoint. (It’s not that much of an achievement, considering the 90-plus percent negative coverage Trump receives from the legacy media.)

The problem for Fox News, of course, is a little like the issue faced by the anti-Trump Republicans in the Lincoln Project. Now that they are useless to the Democrats because the election is over, they’re going to find they have no friends on either side. The Republicans now see them as disloyal and the Democrats will simply call them useful idiots who outlived their usefulness. I don’t expect any mass exodus from CNN or MSNBC to a more “woke” Fox News. Why go for the imitation when you have the real thing?

The $64,000 question then is whether these splits become permanent or not. There are many skeptics who laugh at those leaving Facebook and Twitter, saying either that they will be back after their tantrum is up or that they won’t be missed anyway because they’re uninformed hicks. (I see that out of a lot of #NeverTrumps that I know.) And while there are many thousands who vow to dump Fox News, we haven’t seen the ratings for OANN or NewsMax TV to know if this is a new habit.

One thing that worries me about this trend is the potential for slipping into an information silo, although it certainly could be argued that those who rely solely on the traditional media outlets (as the social media outlets Facebook and Twitter do) are already trapped in one that reflects a left-wing, pro-Democrat viewpoint. Too many people are letting those outlets do their thinking for them, and it’s to the detriment of our republic that they cede that right.

As for me, I’ll try and do a little more on Parler and perhaps join MeWe, but for the immediate future I’ll also stay on Facebook until my friends and family abandon it. I also have a couple pages I curate there so there’s that factor, too. Guess I will be living in two worlds for the time being.