Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5 A.M. and drove to Cocoa Beach with my daughter Sarah, the proprietor of this site, to meet my sister Teresa and my other daughter Hannah for a 5K Turkey Trot. We traversed a few side streets and a neighborhood of the seaside community for 3.1 miles, on a morning which I wish had been ten degrees cooler than the balmy mid-to upper-sixties. Along the way we were waved at, cheered on, and offered beer and jello shots less than a half-mile from the finish line.
The girls let Teresa and me finish ahead of them out of general kindness, and we all broke the eleven minute per mile barrier. I felt all of my almost 58 years upon completion, and must have looked worse as a member of the U.S. Army, who also ran, came up and asked if I was all right. That gave me an opportunity to thank him of his service to our country, and brought to mind my best friend, a former Army Ranger and tactical officer at West Point.
What better way to start Thanksgiving than with family? We had plenty of laughs, and while Teresa and I were running, Sarah and Hannah were breathing easily, taking pictures and generally having a great time looking at all the costumes. It was a festive atmosphere with well over 750 entrants, and was over in time for me to get back home before heading to New Smyrna with my wife Kathy for Thanksgiving dinner at Teresa’s house.
At Teresa’s, there was the typical overcrowding – her house is about 850 square feet, and there were ten adults and three dogs present. The food was traditional, down to Grandma Rogero’s raisin dressing and something called “drunk pie” which is basically loaded with bourbon. And I do mean loaded.
This morning I awoke from the typical turkey coma and realized I had a way to avoid Black Friday. Central Catholic High School, my alma mater, was having its annual fund-raiser Hall of Fame Game. An old teammate of mine, Thad Altman was one of those who entered the HOF. I remember Thad as a fleet-footed center fielder with good power. He is now a state senator from our local area. He played, and actually swung the bat pretty well.
When Thad was catching his breath in the dugout, we spoke of Darrell Hammond, of Saturday Night Live fame, a mutual friend and teammate of ours during our junior college days. You may have seen Darrell on the tube recently discussing his book detailing the harrowing journey he has taken from being abused as a child to his dark days with drugs and alcohol. Darrell’s on the right track now, and has good folks in his corner, and I have offered my support . Back in the day, he was a power hitting left fielder first baseman type. He went by the nickname “The Mick,” as Mickey Mantle was is hero.
For the most part, I sat back and talked to players I had known of, or coached against, over the years. One, Terry Henderson, is back at CC, and I coached him a short while during his junior college days. I took a little time to speak with Faiz Shakir, a darn good infielder during his days at Central Catholic, who is now the V.P. of ThinkProgress.org. You may have seen him on a cable station at some point, as he is a regular political contributor. All in all, he’s quite an impressive young man.
So, that’s how I have managed to dodge the dreaded “Black Friday.”
And for the Tampa Bay Rays, I am hoping they can work with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement which was released Tuesday by Major League Baseball. I was very happy to see baseball try a different tack than the N.B.A., which is on the verge of messing up its very existence.
So often, baseball has been behind the power curve, and it’s great to see them trying to move ahead in a positive manner. This C.B.A. will guarantee that baseball will avoid a labor stoppage for 21 years by its conclusion. Continue reading for some of the resolutions agreed upon.
-Safer helmets, made by Rawlings, will be used starting in 2013. I really don’t care what they look like if they make the game safer. If you’ve ever been buzzed by a fastball, you can understand my concern with better helmets. We don’t need to lose players to useless head injuries.
-Testing for HGH. Good stuff. About time! After keeping their heads in the sand regarding steroids – come on, we knew it was going on in the ’80s – it’s nice to see baseball take a big step forward. Testing may not be perfect, but this is headed in the right direction!
-Tobacco use – none allowed during interviews or team appearances, and we won’t be seeing any smokeless tobacco cans in the hip pockets. About time! I used to chew, and stopped cold turkey – that’s not a cheap holiday line – when my bride-to-be asked me how my father died…uh, oral cancer….Now, if I can get some of my buddies to stop the dipping.
-Players will basically have to play in the All Star Game, unless injured or excused by the commissioner. Good, it’s about time they show up for the fans. We’ve seen some pretty lame excuses for missing the Mid-Summer Classic in recent years.
-There is wording in the discrimination section regarding “sexual orientation.” Too bad this one took so long. Homophobia and the like need to be long gone and far away.
-Balanced leagues. What took you so long? Oh, take a look below…
The not so good
-Instant replay will now include, providing everyone can sign on, determination of foul/fair balls, and “traps”. These are tiny steps, but they set a precedent going in the right direction. I just wish they would be more concerned with getting calls right first, and letting everything else fall in place later…
-Interleague play will be going on all season. This is a result of balanced leagues. No, I guess you can’t have it all. How will this affect “crunch time” in divisional races?
The really not good – or potentially VERY bad
-The affect the new draft and the signing of international free agents. The taxing process will have a terrible effect on teams that have built through the draft. That is, the small market clubs – Oakland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and the like. This could kill the competition. Just like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Think of what a great story K.C. is, with all their young players. Remember how Pittsburgh was the shining new light of the baseball season early on last year?
And what about our Tampa Bay Rays? They came out of nowhere, with a bunch of no-names and great arms, most of which were developed within the organization – and blew into the playoffs for a third time in four seasons.
They are the bell cow for what the game should be about: strong organization, smart, cutting-edge thinking, and the little engine that could, all wrapped into one. I am hoping that this single aspect of the new C.B.A. doesn’t blow it for all its good intent. For now, I will believe in the little teams with big hearts and souls. We need more than the Yankees and Red Sox to keep the game great.
For more on the new CBA, check out Wendy Thurm’s breakdown of the new deal.