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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

America after 911. Where are we today?

            Eighteen years ago, Americans woke up to another promising summer day. At 8:46am we sat in shock and awe at the news of a plane striking the North World Trade Tower. Initial reports were sketchy and unclear on what was happening.
            Could this have been an accident? Was it pilot error or equipment malfunction? While the news agencies attempted to digest the first crash, I was running every scenario I could draw upon to understand what had happened. At 9:03, everything changed. This wasn’t a random act-America was under attack. I walked into the office and one of the men asked me what I thought was happening. “We’re at war.”
            Shock turned to horror to anger. Who performed this cowardly act and why? America came together as they did on December 7th, 1941. We were all galvanized in a common goal of bringing those responsible to justice. If that meant war, then so be it. We had been attacked without provocation.
            We saw our elected officials finally stand together, holding hands and signing. It was time for petty political bickering to cease and take care of business. Even the press was onboard. But, unlike our parents and grandparents who thrived with a patriotic fervor for almost thirty years, our unity would be short lived. In less than three years, the press and democrats began questioning the President. The days of standing as one, were over. The daily business of pointless political bantering once again became the norm.
            Eighteen years later the landscape of the press and the political climate is no loner in the interest of the American public; they are solely pushing political agendas and damn the country.
            I’ve heard all of the reasons on why this had happened but none of them hold water!
            It’s twitter, Facebook, snapchat, tumbler, google, blogs or a host of other social media sites. Some will say it’s the liberal presses fault or the few conservative outlets that are spreading the hate, the lies, the disinformation and the dissension. To a small degree those are fair assumptions. But where does the real problem lay?
            Our parents and grandparents, whether democrat, republic or independent grew up in a country where law and order were respected. Teachers, police, first responders and parents were respected. They were the ones molding the upcoming generations to be good citizens that would be accountable for their actions. This started changing with the formation of the Department of Education and allowing the courts to interfere with the operations of the public-school system. If a student felt they were being unjustly treated or had to participate in a school activity, such as gym class, they were no longer forced to. Forced to? I think not. It was part of growing up and learning how to accept defeat and disappointment. We didn’t receive participation trophies for showing up, we earned a trophy for finishing first, second or third, nor for showing up!
            I believe the first case that set the precedent was in Arkansas where there was a dress and hair code. Little Johnny’s hair was too long and the principal told him to go home and get it cut. A suit was filed and little Johnny’s parents won. While on the surface this might seem trivial; it wasn’t! More suits were filed through the years with similar rulings and repercussions. The High School I attended in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 76-78, became a shell of the school I knew. Why is it necessary to have police on campus? The only time I saw an officer in High School is when I was parking with my date or getting a ticket. Not on campus! Yet, that is now the norm. Why?
            Some call it progress. Progress indeed! Is putting law and order, accountability and personal responsibility on the shelf, progress? I think not. But that is the norm and it must stop! Imagine if the men that invaded, North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany would have held a collective vote. Do think we would have defeated the Japanese at Midway, Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa if present day attitudes had infected our military? NO! And let us not forget about the Airmen and Naval personal who swept the skies clear of Axis planes and cleared the sea routes of enemy intruders. With today’s thinking, it wouldn’t he happen and we’d be speaking German, Japanese or Italian. That’s a fact, Jack.
            With that said, the core problem has yet to be identified. It’s right there in front of your face. If it was a snake you’d have already been bitten. Well, if it’s so damn obvious, why can’t I see it? Look closer and harder. See it yet? No? Then pull out a mirror. That’s right, it’s you and us. We are the problem. We have let social media and the press, right or left influence every post and story. How many of you post useless meme’s degrading an opposing party thinking it’s funny or cute? How many futile arguments have you engaged in then retreated to your blanket fort or a tub of comfort food because the world is so mean and evil. Well, remember, you contributed to it and then ran away. If you have a valid point to make that adds to a discussion, research than comment, not vice-a-versa. And be ready for dissenting comments because in today’s climate you will have to be personally accountable for your actions. Can you handle that? Sure. You only have to turn off your phone, computer, laptop or tablet and the problem will go away, right? Wrong! It will only fester and continue to grow.
            Some say there is no way we can ever come together again. That is more media mind bending. Don’t believe me, then try this on for size. College football and the NFL seasons have kicked off. Between sixty to one hundred and ten thousand fans pack a stadium every weekend to watch THEIR team play. It is a fervent and sometime rabid atmosphere. Do you think for one minute all of those fans are from one political party? Do you think they all have the same likes and dislike? Do you think they will agree on the plays the coach calls during the game? Highly unlikely but they do have one common thread, they are cheering for their team. And that is what is missing in our society today. Instead of routing for the team, America, we are too consumed with supporting individual players. And since the players know that, they will act accordingly even if it isn’t in the best interests of the team. When that happens, what do the owners or coaches do with such an individual? They have a short “Come to Jesus Meeting” and give them a choice, join the team or you’re gone. That’s right, they were just held accountable for their actions.
            That is what is sorely lacking in America today. How can people work together when they spend all their time giving press conferences and discussing how they can’t agree on what color toilet paper they should be using. I know that’s a ludicrous example, but that is the climate in Washington DC today. The color doesn’t matter, the issue is, does it work. Color is irrelevant!
            It is time for us as a nation, We the People, to take back what our forefathers and ancestors fought and died for; a land of liberty, justice, freedom and accountability.  

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Little League Baseball-Framing a ptich. Stop it!

             There has been a lot of discussion at the Little League World Series about what a great job the catchers are doing framing the ball. What disturbs me the most is that David Ross has signed up with this foolishness, seeing he was a major league catcher. The more these guys talk the more I’m convinced they need to get behind the plate and see what’s going on. Because every time they open their mouths, I questions whether they ever played the game.
            As an umpire I knew what I was looking for and, trust me, it wasn’t where the catcher’s glove was in relationship to the pitch, it was where the ball crossed the plate in relationship to the batter. That’s it. Nothing more. However, if a pitcher’s game is on and he was painting the corners, the letters and the knees, believe me, he will get the call unless the catcher decides to frame the pitch.
            So, what exactly is framing the pitch? Simple, the catcher believes the pitch was a bit low or just off the plate, they will jerk the glove to a position where it appears the ball had crossed the plate in the strike zone. That is framing and trust me, umpires know exactly what the catcher is trying to do. And it doesn’t work.
            I had many catchers try that trick and not get the call. They would start grumbling and softly start complaining. My reply was simple. “If you wouldn’t have moved your glove, you might have gotten the call.” They would shake their head not believing what I’d just told them. From that point on, guess what they didn’t do? That’s right. If the pitch was close, they held the glove still making sure I got a good look at where the ball was and nine times out of ten, if the pitcher was on, he got that call.
            My point is this guys and gals, the minute you move your glove and try to frame the pitch, it’s going to be a ball. Don’t believe me, give it a try and see what happens.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Little League Baseball and throwing junk

            My greatest fear for a twelve-year old pitcher came to fruition last night. Who watched the Minnesota/Louisiana? The pitcher for Minnesota was doing what I have harped about for decades about young pitchers throwing junk. I believe his name is Law. He threw a curve ball and you could see by the grimace on his face, that his arm/elbow just crapped out. Well done coach Well done. It doesn’t help when the ESPN gurus, included David Ross, who I’m starting to waiver on as an announcer, hail the massive breaking balls and slider these kids are throwing. It’s not their kid out their throwing the dice on the mound. And then when it happens, they are speechless, as they should be. If the kids stick with fastballs and the occasional change-up this wouldn’t be happening. But no, they don’t want that. They want the that piece of plastic or bronze on the mantle that will only start collecting dust after ten years.
            I know what it’s like to feel the pain of the pitcher. When I was fourteen, I was diagnosed with tendonitis. It was so severe, I couldn’t hold a baseball for two weeks. Eventually it healed and I went back to the mound. But did it really heal. Six years later I would be reminded it hadn’t. I decided to try our for the OSU’s, Oklahoma State University, baseball team. I worked out all summer and found a good friend to catch for me. All summer long, no problems. Arm/elbow felt great. On the day of the tryout I hadn’t been warming up for more than five minutes and the pain I remembered at fourteen came back with vengeance. Needless to say, I was hammered on the mound. Hard to put anything on the ball when your elbow is on fire. Coach Ward wanted all the pitcher to come back in two days for another look. It would be two weeks, TWO WEEKS before the inflammation settled down. Nope, wasn’t able to go back.
            Over the years, I was still able to play catch with my kids, pick-up games and softball, but the damage had been done and I paid the price. Had I been throwing junk at thirteen and fourteen? Yes. Did anyone ever tell me not to No. Why? That is the question.
            Today, there is enough medical evidence out there that says, “Don’t’ do it.” And that is sound advice that shouldn’t be ignored. But it will be by most coaches thinking, “it won’t happen to my kid. I know how to teach him properly.” They say that right up to the moment they release a curve ball and you can hear a pop or watch the pitcher’s arm drop to his side while he grimaces in pain. Now what are you going to do? Tommy John surgery at 12?  Rotator cuff operation? Elbow reconstruction? Yeah, all of those seem like wonderful options for a youth pitcher. I think not. It’s insanity and should not be tolerated.
            One last point on this. I knew a kid in Tulsa who was drafted by the Phillies. His name was David Frammel. Top high school recruit for the majors. He’d thrown junk his whole life. Signed with the minors and in his first year, his arm blew out. You guessed it-Tommy John surgery. It didn’t take and he was in constant pain. He told me he was on the strongest narcotics of the day, in the early 90’s and was still in constant pain. He wished he’d never have thrown that junk growing up, but the damage was done. Is this how you want you kid to turn out? If you answered yes, you have no business coaching youth baseball!