Saturday, September 27, 2008

Two Great ACC Upsets: Congratulations to The Maryland Terps and UNC Tarheels!!!

Pigskin Power Shown as ACC Underdogs Defeat Mighty Foes!!
This ain’t college basketball folks, this is Division I football! The University of Maryland trekked to Death Valley to upset the favored top 25 Clemson Tigers 20-17 with tough defense and ball control offense. Meanwhile, 2008 could mark the year the University of North Carolina rises from the scrapheap to be bowl bound with the Tarheels upsetting the favored and once mighty Miami Hurricanes, 28-24. Not only is it noteworthy that both ACC underdogs should be victorious on this final weekend of September but both had to travel to enemy territory, teams reputed to have historically enjoyed strong home field advantages to head back north with prideful victories to celebrate.

Here’s hoping there will be many happy Saturdays ahead in the weeks ahead before attention shifts to two guys named Williams and their hardwood heroes!!!

Mind Blower: Living Proof Some Folks Have Too Much Time On Their Hands

1, 3, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97 .....

Remember those? Prime numbers, numbers that are indivisible except by themselves and one that cannot be factored down. The higher up the numerical scale, the less frequently prime numbers occur. That's all Math 101, and yes, 101 is a prime number too!

Thanks to Windows XP and a team of UCLA scientists they have now discovered a 13 million digit prime number!

Can you imagine how many sheets of paper it would take or how long it would take just to write down 13 million figures? If it takes one second per digit, that would be around 150 days around the clock!

If every digit were displayed at standard resolution, how many industry standard 17" computer displays would be needed to show all the figures?

Science is all about discovering new things, so let's celebrate this team at UCLA for their discovery. Now, who can explain how this discovery benefits the human condition except perhaps Microsoft can brag how air-tight its ability to calculate is. Remember the hoopla over the computation problems with the first generation Intel Pentium processors?

RMF is proud to have enabled his readers to be just a wee bit smarter on this rainy late September afternoon in Chesapeake Bay country. Given your humble writer was born in '53 and graduated from high school in '71, does that make him a PTP (Prime Time Player)? That might be stretching it!! Ah to be old enough to remember the days of the adding machine before the pocket calculator and the geeks still used slide rules in advanced math and science back then. Why do you think your writer here became a Liberal Arts student? Majoring in English and Philosophy and minoring in History worked out just fine for this fellow!!!
So when does one know, "I'm past my prime" anyway?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Larry King Plays Softball With Murderous Dictator

Mean Ugly Dictator Moves Into Uncle Larry's Neighborhood

Larry King has a certain charm, beneath his gruff Brooklyn-bred exterior, he's just a gentle old gabby fellow who just wants to know how the kids are doing, how do you like New York, and who's the most incredible person you ever met? Of course, you wouldn't tell old uncle Larry something you don't want the whole world to know. He's surely one to drop names. He's met them all. Likewise, he sure has lots of gabby gossip to talk about. From rock stars to astronauts, royalty to Miss America. He also likes interviewing really strange people -- those folks with the crazy look in their eyes always wide, wide open and a bad case of the jitters who painstakingly tell Uncle Larry about being abducted by aliens or how they've talked to dolphins.

He's gruff and persistent but if Uncle Larry ever tried to play hardball with his guests, he'd be tossing them Nerf balls! After bouncing around and running afoul with the law for grand larceny which he bargained down to a simple "no contest" to passing bad checks, a long career in broadcasting beckoned.

Soon Larry King became a fixture on the radio dial hosting an all night syndicated talk show on the Mutual Network that started off with a 90 minute interview segment then call-in talk show segment for the rest of the night. Yeah, old Larry was a nationwide cure for insomnia. "Next caller, Moose Fart, Montana, go ahead!"

That fame lead Uncle Larry to CNN just when the network was becoming a national big shot to be their big prime time star. He's been around since June, 1985 in front of the old fashioned microphone, no sports coat, in shirt sleeves and his classic suspenders. Back in 1985, there wasn't much competition in Larry's neighborhood. He reigned supreme. Larry King had been around for more than a decade when Fox News launched with some obnoxious blooter, Bill O'Reilly and a couple unknowns Hannity and Colmes. Today, they are smoking Uncle Larry in the ratings, but they still keep lined up to talk to Uncle Larry. You're nobody until you chew the fat with Uncle Larry.

Egads, what's this, no Sarah Palin, at least not yet. She must be a nobody. Does Uncle Larry feel squeamish about asking a woman what it's like to gun down a moose? Well, how about interviewing someone who wants to have a much bigger run than a moose rifle. How about an atomic bomb? Of course, such a hunter wouldn't need an atom bomb to kill a moose, but it sure would come in handy to scare the poopy pants off of the great Satan and to push Israel into the sea.

Welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So how are the kids Mr. Islamic terrorist dictator? What do you like about visiting New York, chum?

Here's the transcript to the interview. Read it and weep!
It's nice to know all's well with Mahmoud's family. He's just real regular guy. Next caller, Buffalo Breath, Wyoming....

NFL Week 4: The Picks and a Look at the Real Losers So Far

Ravens Face Reality Check in Pittsburgh with Ray-Ray Ready to Play!!!
The NFL is closing in on the end of the first quarter of the 2008 season as most teams will have completed four of sixteen games this week. We'll wait until every team has four games in the book to review the season so far, but there are a few items that deserve advance notice.

The big earthquake in the NFL so far is Tom Brady’s loss for the season in New England. It’s starting to look like the two big AFC powerhouses, New England and Indianapolis are not headed to those 13-3, 14-2, or 15-1 seasons they’ve been able to achieve recently. Perhaps the top AFC team will finish with 12-4. This scenario gives at least a six pack of victories to distribute around the rest of the field, and soon we’ll see what teams are benefitting. Baltimore, Tennessee, Buffalo, and Denver are all undefeated.

Perhaps the second biggest story besides Tom Brady going down in New England is what’s going on at the opposite end of the scale. In the professional sport that does more to promote parity than any other sport, there are a handful of absolutely terrible teams: Detroit, Oakland, Kansas City, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Cleveland might be 0-3, but they were expected to contend and their failure is not the result of the kind of incompetence and baffling blunders that brought the other programs down.

Detroit FINALLY parted ways with GM/CEO Matt Millen. Fans in the Motor City have been screaming for his head for years. Given the high draft picks returning nothing on the field is but one reason for the Lions’ misery. Truthfully, over the long haul, what professional team has been more consistently terrible than the Detroit Lions who have defined mediocrity and losing for fifty years, half a century. Only in 1991, during that entire span, have the Lions ever gone further than the first round. Were it not for running back, Barry Sanders, brilliant career, what would have Detroit fans had to cheer for at all?

Skies are dark in the land of black and silver. Head coach, Lane Kiffen, has been blind-folded with his hands tied behind his back all season long. The ever impulsive owner, Al Davis, hasn’t dumped him yet, but despite having some talent in some areas, it’s pandemonium in the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. Oakland did beat Kansas City who is also on this list and took the uprising Buffalo Bills to the limit only to lose, but the team is in chaos.

Kansas City is 0-3. Three games, three different quarterbacks start, Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard, and Tyler Thigpen have one loss each. So when does second year powerhouse, Ingle Martin, from Furman start one? Kansas City has been falling apart for several years now. Chiefs’ fans need to see some signs that there is a plan for the future in the games that lie head. They’re a mess.

On the east side of Missouri, find another miserable team, the St. Louis Rams. A team that once boasted the “Greatest Show on Turf” just a little while ago has fallen on hard times. Their defense is pathetic.Their offense did not reach the “red zone” until week 3. No team has scored fewer points or given up more than the Rams. Their answer, blame the quarterback as Marc Bulger sits in favor the oft-injured staggering veteran, Trent Green.

Cincinnati is on the scrapheap too. Should they beat Cleveland, that will help pull them out of this shameful company, but the Bengals are sailing a ship with out a rudder in stormy seas. Coach Marvin Lewis has seldom been able to show his ability as a head coach as his job description has become more that of baby sitter and probation officer. Look at all the Cincinnati players who’ve been in trouble with the law. Chad Johnson continues his self-serving comedy show disrupting any kind of team concept since in his world, there is Chad or Stinko or whatever and the rest of the world. Players openly criticize their talented leader, Carson Palmer. Marvin Lewis will be the fall guy, a sad fate for a good man, but owners don’t fire themselves and few owners have been less willing to invest in the quality on the field. You get what you pay for.

Now for the games. We did a nice job for week one and three. However, on the college end of things, we’ve already lost one, USC getting bombed at Oregon State, so how will we do with the (BOOM, BOOM, BOOM) National Football League!!!

We’ll start with this week’s “Toilet Bowl.” It’s Cleveland visiting the Cincinnati Bengals who are favored by 3 ½. The heck with the odds makers, Cleveland wins this.

Houston visits Jacksonville who’s favored by 7 ½. This one is the Jaguars all the way.

Denver is a 9 point favorite at Kansas City. Just nine points! Denver walks away winning big.

Atlanta visits Carolina with the home team favored by a touchdown. Yes, Carolina will win by at least a touchdown. It was fun writing about the scrapheap and NOT including Atlanta. They’re better than expected but not good enough for division foes up I-85.

Arizona visits the Meadowlands to face the 2 ½ point favored Jets. Brett Favre and the boys will win this one.

San Francisco visits New Orleans with the Saints favored by six. No upset brewing here. The Saints will have San Fran’s number.

Green Bay visits Tampa Bay down by 1 ½ points perhaps largely due to the home field advantage. Still, Green Bay’s good enough to beat the slight odds and win.

Minnesota goes to Music City where they are expect to lose by a field goal to the Tennessee Titans. The Vikings will leave Nashville with an “Achy Breaky Heart” with the Tennessee defense doing the two-step all over the Minnesota offense.

San Diego goes into Oakland where they’re only favored to win by 8 points. It doesn’t take a brain to see the Raiders going down the drain. San Diego covers the spread and wins big. They’re ready to punish somebody for their first two weeks.

Buffalo visits the land of confusion, favored by 8 to beat the Rams. No problem. If St. Louis has cheerleaders, they’d better stay home. They might have to put on pads and fight.

Washington goes to division rival, Dallas, down by 11 ½. The word to our friends down the road is take your ass whoopin’ and don’t get any injuries. The Skins aren’t ready to do battle against the stacked Cowboys in Texas.

Philadelphia is starting to get respect as one of the country’s top teams. Favored by 3 ½, a convincing win on the road against the Bears will prove it.

Finally, our Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Pickle Jar to battle the Steelers who are favored by a touchdown on Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh has dominated Monday night for years as if that spot in the schedule makes a big difference. Willie Parker is hurt and whose defense masters stopping the run? Pittsburgh got roughed up in a tough loss to Philadelphia. The Ravens lack of experience on offense with rookie QB, Joe Flacco, will be tested harshly on one of the nastiest home fields in all of the NFL. Special teams could make the difference and the Ravens are a very tricky team in that facet of the game. Still strange things happen on the open end of that stadium when a sure bet field goal might not be. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs, and the Ravens defense will run this game relishing a sweet victory on the field named for the company made famous for mustard and catsup.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MSNBC Runs Viciously False Ad About McCain's Health

How Dirty is it Going to Get?
MSNBC saw fit to run an ad stirring up lies about the extent of John McCain’s previous bouts with cancer to suggest his health is a smoking gun issue and is trying to make forcing disclosure of his medical issues an issue in the campaign.

Meet DFA, Democracy for America. They are another one of those so-called advocacy or political action groups, which functions as surrogates for the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate without being directly accountable to the Democratic National Committee or the Obama Campaign. As such they can function as the hatchet men for these concerns who can in turn plausibly deny their involvement (wink-wink) and say they (nod-nod) had nothing to do with their activities.

This is the link to their site which currently features perhaps the lowest of the low political ads shown so far. It suggests John McCain is purposely covering up the dangers of his previous bouts of cancer suggesting that he already has one foot in the graveyard.

The insinuation of course is that does John McCain have something to hide?

The ad has been aired by MSNBC for $50,000 paid for by Democracy for America and Brave New PAC. Democracy for America (DFA) is headquarted in Vermont headed by James Dean, brother of Howard Dean, Democratic Party Chairman, how convenient! Incidentally, these groups attempted to get Fox News Network and CNN to broadcast this hate ad. Both networks declined.

The ad shows a stark blank and white computer enhanced photo of John McCain showing his face with bandaging on the left side of his face after his 2000 surgery for skin cancer. The performer, supposedly a doctor, announces: “John McCain is 72 years old and had cancer four times.” With almost a science fiction horror movie production, the announcer then concludes, “Why won’t John McCain release his medical records?”

This hideous attack ad is a vicious attempt to make Senator McCain’s health and age an issue in the campaign. Additionally, Brave New PAC has circulated a petition with 2,500 doctors signing to urge the Republican Nominee to release his medical records.

In truth, last May, Mr. McCain released 1,173 pages of medical information to a group of reporters to examine for several hours. The records themselves were not released nor were reporters permitted to make copies. These texts cover 2000-2008 including his most severe outbreak of melanoma. Other reports have clearly stated John McCain is in superb health and his health should not be of concern.

Barack Obama has not released his health records either. Maybe we’d find out something about the extent of his admitted drug abuse including cocaine. One can only imagine.

Regardless, this is the latest of a series of ads run by various Democratic party support groups representing the most extreme faction of America’s far left.

Once again, MSNBC found no problem airing a malicious ad attacking the Republican party while on air anchors openly fawn all over Barack Obama. The network has abandoned any pretense of reporting the 2008 election honesty. They’ve established themselves as a pro-Obama advocacy group masquerading as a cable news network.

It’s time to use the remote control and avoid NBC programming to the fullest extent. The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC, and all other news programming should be held as highly suspect and viewers seeking honest insights into the election must realize no such coverage is possible in such a conspicuously biased organization.

Under Jeff Zucker, NBC has gone from a network consistently producing top-rated programming to a pathetic also-ran in the TV industry. The news entity which once boasted names like Tim Russert, John Chancellor, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley is now home to Keith Olbermann, David Gregory, and Chris Mathews, all committed and conspicuous left-wingers.

Is it any wonder, MSNBC is the only network to run the horrible hate ad discussed in this article?

Email Idiocy: False Bill Cosby Write-In Campaign

Do you get emails like these? Today it’s Bill Cosby. Yesterday it might have been Andy Rooney, John Riggins, Robin Williams or some other figure known for being outspoken. Just as there are tons of stale old jokes that have been in circulation for many years to the point where between seeing the same old same old so often and that in the era of political correctness, jokes just aren’t funny anymore. It seems like blondes, rednecks, and Sarah Palin are the only safe targets lest the PC Police go into action. Enough already!

Of course, these pages of jokes are often attributed to George Carlin, Robin Williams, or maybe even Johnny Carson though none of them represent the kind of humor these guys would expose.

This Cosby fraud is more disturbing though. It represents reactionary chest pounding at its worst. It appeals to the absolute worst of a certain sub-element of a strain of conservative thinking and is horrifying in both its pretense and intolerance. Somehow, falsely attributing such low-life gutter thinking to a figure like Bill Cosby is supposed to give it credibility. Having seen so many of these, they almost seem to be coming from the same source. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way to backwards engineer the email to get to its source, but the scoundrels who originate this kind of hatred seem to be hopelessly cloaked in cyberspace?

This reflects the same mentality of the absolute worst of talk radio as some of these might represent the same kinds of talking points radical idiots like Michael Savage might expose. It’s white trash “yokelism” and pure bigoted intolerance at its most obvious. What a horrible insult to Bill Cosby who has broken with the flow with his tough love approach to the dreadful issues facing a huge number of African-American citizens who have never been able to find their way into the American good life.

Conservatives are not hateful people. Conservatives believe in the strength and integrity of the individual, where the Constitution prevails, and each person rather than big institutions really matters. Conservatives tend to be Patriotic believing in the fundamental goodness of America and the potential of each citizen. This “Cosby” diatribe is full of self-flattering hatred and anger. Though some of the issues raised are surely legitimate, the tone and outlook on humanity reflected in the desired results is bigotry unmasked.

It’s time we catch up with the technology at our fingertips and hold EVERYONE responsible for spreading falsehoods, rumors, and other garbage responsible for their behavior if the originators can ever be found. There are viruses that actually do harm to our computers and their software, but then there are the idiot emails that waste our time and perpetuate idiocy.

Read this. Be on the lookout for such garbage and perhaps the folks who start these email chains can be outed.

Here’s the poop. (We mean that quite literally.)



(1) 'Press 1 for English' is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait at the border until you can.

(2) We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country's attitude. NO imports, no exports. We will use the 'Wal-Mart's policy, 'If we ain't got it, you don't need it.'

(3) When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.

(4) All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border. (six month tour) They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.

(5) Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin in, you ain't gettin nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will not be able to touch it.

(6) Welfare - Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40 hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.

(7) Professional Athletes --Steroids - The FIRST time you check positive you're banned for life.

(8) Crime - We will adopt the Turkish method, the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more life sentences. If convicted, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim; gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

(9) One export will be allowed; Wheat, The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

(10) All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it's a worthy cause.

(11) The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(12) The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes but a vote for me will get you better than what you have, and better than what you're gonna get. Thanks for listening, and remember to write in my name on the ballot in November.

God Bless America !!!!!!!!!!!

Bill Cosby

Enough said? This is pure trash. Yet this kind of stuff flows around the email flow forwarded to forwarded to forwarded endlessly. This crap stops at this computer, and we bounce back. Who could possibly imagine a good man like Bill Cosby would ever express thoughts like this. How shameful it is to attribute such reactionary views to a truly wonderful America.

College Football Fun: First Fall Weekend

Here are the college games we’re watching. Way too soon to be picking bowls but USC and Georgia play big games that will help legitimize their hopes.

USC (#1) -25 at Oregon State
When the point spread is more than three touchdowns, there’s always hope for those who pick against the spread, but USC is on a roll. They’ll take care of business and how.

Maryland at Clemson (#20) -11.5
Proving that this writer is a homer, pick Maryland to win outright. Their defense will surprise the Clemson offense.

Fresno State (#25) -7 at UCLA
This is the weekend we see if UCLA coach, Rick Neuheisel’s bravado is on target. Fresno State is not going to sneak up on anyone anymore. UCLA is playing at home. Give this one to UCLA.

North Carolina at Miami - -7.5
North Carolina is improving, but to go to Miami and win is too much to ask. Stick with Miami.

Navy at Wake Forest (#16) -15.5
Go Middies. Anchors away! Still put your money on Wake Forest.

Alabama (#8) at Georgia (#3) -7
Wow, two SEC teams in the top ten matching up. Catch the hype, whoopee, the Bulldogs are wearing their black jerseys and the coach is making a big deal about it. So what! Play the game. This should be the fun game of this weekend. Our heart pulls for ‘Bama to pull the upset, but Georgia is a legitimate, very legitimate National Champion contender. It’s Georgia!

Illinois (#22) at Penn State (#12) -14.5
Every time Penn State takes the field, fans get to watch football history in the making as Coach Joe Paterno gets his guys ready for yet another year. To think many wrote him off as too old how long ago? Penn State is a solid top 25 team who could sneak into the top ten after a few other teams fall. Winning against another ranked team like Illinois is a must. Go Pops. Those are boring uniforms your boys wear, but they will win.

Florida Congressman Takes Obama Style Prejudice Against Small Town America as Represented by Sarah Palin to a New Low

Florida AS if Obama's idiotic remarks about small town people clinging to guns and religion out of bitterness, here's some comments that take that mentaility to an even worse extreme. Congressman, Alcee Hastings, has taken hate rhetoric in the 2008 campaign to a new low in warning blacks and jews to beware of Sarah Palin. The following statement is hate rhetoric plain and simple and cannot be tolerated, period.

“anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.”

For more on Hasting's tirade, see this article:

It's a Crazy World Out There: Living Proof!!!

Some Proof The World’s Gone Mad From The Drudge Report

Here’s some articles RMF found while looking through the Drudge Report recently. If these aren’t proof we live in a crazy world, good grief, what does? We start off with two left wingnuts. Then examine the perils of eating meat or other animal products. Of course RMF encourages all responsible readers to join our chapter of PETA. People Enjoy Tasty Animals!!!!

Al Gore urges “civil disobedience” at coal plant construction.

Bette Midler’s plan to save the planet.

Hot dogs cause evacuation at Philadelphia stadium:

Then there’s always those nutcases at PETA. They have some ideas that would make your Cherry Garcia real yum yum.

Cyber Insanity Out of Control

Cyberspace Creates a New Breed of Criminal: A Convenient Tool For the Radical Left

Last week the news broke that Sarah Palin’s personal email had been hacked apparently as investigators are turning up by the son of a prominent democrat. Now, talk show host Bill O’Reilly who was most outspoken on that those responsible for this crime must be prosecuted has had his site hacked with personal information about his subscribers published.

Just how low does it go and what does this reflect of the mentality of those who would commit such crimes against decent American people especially given it goes beyond public figures like Ms. Palin and Mr. O’Reilly to everyday people who enjoy Bill O’Reilly’s material?

Computer hacking is an extremely serious crime that all citizens must treat as such. How does it differ from “grand theft” or “breaking and entering” for instance? There is no difference between stealing electronic data from a person as ones’ physical property. Likewise, given how much of a person’s financial records are on line, the cases of identity theft, charging up a huge balance on a person’s credit, or obtaining confidential information in a person’s or company’s procession it theft, pure and simple. Why should it be seen any different because a new medium is involved.

What is so disturbing about the Sarah Palin email hacking is how casually the news media treated the case and how much more interest there seemed to be that the chance existed their might be instances where she used her personal account to do state’s business. Hardly a news report went by without dropping the hint that perhaps that was going on and when Democratic surrogates for the Obama campaign were asked to comment, they couldn’t wait to make some comment about, “Well, we’ll just have to see what’s in those emails before we pass judgment on this!”

In other words, are they suggesting that if we assumed she did use her email for state’s business to keep it out of the state record, that would justify someone taking it upon himself to hack into her account to find out? Given that the radical left has become a culture where the ends justify the means surely some notion of cyber vigilantism would be just fine with them.

Email and the Internet have afforded our culture with a wealth of new possibilities, ways to share information and communicate in ways we never could have imagined the last time baseball’s post season came around without the New York Yankees present. The problem is we have the technology before all the ethical, moral, and legal issues have been fully conceptualized.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of left-wing extremists and anarchists who have no problem with using their knowledge of technology to destroy others, their reputations, and their financial security. There are also common criminals with technology skills and the psychologically impaired cyber thrill seeker who engages in this kind of treachery as well. They are all criminals. Their crimes are VERY serious. Their punishments must be severe including time in jail, monitoring of their on-line usage, and possible probation terms that would forbid them from using technological equipment from which they could inflict their chaos as well.

Our culture has gone through an incredible technology revolution in the past decade plus. What email and internet has provided us could be every bit as revolutionary as when Guttenberg invented the printing press. Just as the printed word made reading materials available to the masses and helped create the need for universal literacy which helped transform society to where the middle class prevailed, we’re only a few years into the cyber age where the possibilities are both fascinating and horrifying.

In a world where so few seem to have firm moral grounding and adhere to a rational and moral system of values, in this world of the “Me” generation and instant gratification, the task of making sure our technology advances serve the higher purposes and we don’t continue to see what’s happened with Sarah Palin’s email or Bill O’Reilly’s website will be assured.

There is one more aspect to this subject that should have every American concerned, cyber terrorism. If just a bunch of idiotic kids can do what they did to these two public figures, imagine what the Islamic extremists could do on a much grander scale.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baltimore County Teachers Out of Touch With The Real World


It's time to get over a much publicized notion, school teachers are not paid enough. Perhaps it can be argued that effective, excellent teachers are not paid enough; however, in Baltimore County, Maryland career teachers are doing darned well and have benefits including full pensions that folks working in the private sector could only dream of. Plenty of folks are feeling fortunate their job is not going away. A pay increase even for cost-of-living this year might be hard to imagine. That Baltimore County teachers have the audacity to even consider a job action shows how out of touch with the real world the profession has become. Yet, during this horrible week when so many headlines are dedicated to one more sector of the economy in real trouble, career teachers can rest secure their jobs are secure and they will be able to retire with a nice income including paid health care.

Here's the details from WBAL-AM radio:

Besides that, teachers are paid for ten months, and years 1-10 get an annual seniority step, 1-15 with a Master's Degree, and then get seniority steps every five years. Yes, teaching is a tough job especially in some subject areas if a teacher lives up to the full responsibilities of his or her job, but teachers also typically must only be present for no more than seven hours, have decent vacations, with accumulating sick leave benefits, and personal days during those ten months. Teachers have two months to seek additional employment and generally have the kind of hours that allow for some additional part time employment.

This is the wrong time to be talking about "job actions" when their students' parents could very well be living from paycheck to paycheck wondering how much longer they might get one at all. Some have no health care. Some have no retirement plan. Many have retirement plans such as 401K's that have busted.

What's the buzz in the faculty room, aside from whining teachers aren't paid enough one of the most often heard complaint is the lack of support at home.

Given the situation discussed above, parents have little motivation to support their teachers and any hope of sending their kids to private schools or move to a community with better schools has evaporated with the current financial mess.

Teachers are assured of a baseline existence. Only once the economy improves and the profession agrees to things such as performance based pay can we honestly have a discussion of any kind of serious higher pay for deserving but not all teachers.
The writer of this article is a former ten year veteran of Baltimore County Public Schools who left not for financial reasons but for philosophical differences for where the system was heading.

Wall Street Villain: It Pays to be A Fraud

The Good Life: Golden Parachutes for Gold Thieves
"Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king."
Sweetheart Like You, Bob Dylan
Attention investors, how are your Merrill Lynch investments doing? How many of us have lost money we're saving for retirement, putting kids through college, or other opportunities who have been slaughtered by the current mess on Wall Street and the collapse of the Investment Banking Industry.

While there are no simple answers and we're concerned about the knee-jerk reaction to quickly assign blame, the situation concerning former Merrill-Lynch CEO is beyond disturbing. How can corporate executives on whose watch the company went down the tubes justify the kind of rich entitlement in the form of his severance package be justified?

Though it would not undo the harm done, a substantial amount of this money equitably distributed among the distressed investors would at least put dollars in the hands of those who were harmed by the company's failure not in the hands of the person who watched it happen.

$160 million in retirement and severance goes beyond what any typical wage earner including those horrible rich people Obama has singled out making more than $250,000 can possibly comprehend.

Stanley O'neal will live a lavishly for the rest of his life with fortunes to divy out how he darned well pleases while who can calculate how many peoples' retirements are ruined or kids will not be able to work toward the kind of future their parents worked so hard to try to provide for them?

While RMF hates the "greedy corporations" rhetoric as corporate America is the source of so much good in America, the people resposible for running it down must be held to account financially.

Presidential Candidates Have a Day Job To Do

pictured: patriot versus socialist
If there ever was a test to show why John McCain MUST be our next President, here it is. Seriously, if you think Barack Obama is the answer there is something seriously wrong with you. Wake up!

John McCain understands something, don't quit your day job. Until and unless (hopefully) he is elected President of the United States, he is the senior Senator from Illinois. All Senators including John McCain and Barack Obama are honor bound to the people who elected them and their states to do their job. The recent economic developments cannot go unchecked. How much of the crisis is being hyped up for political opportunism is hard to assess. Anyone claiming to have quick answers, and is quick to simply the matter, is being very short-sighted and is essentially blowing smoke at this point. While the media and politicians are quick to want to assign blame, the real important job is to fully understand what led to this mess and come up with responsible solutions not to provide knee jerk, politically sexy, reactions.

Barack Obama has never taken his responsibility as Senator serious as his record, while present, puts him to the furthest left extreme beyond even the independent Socialist, Bernie Saunders from Vermont, or figures like Barbara Boxer. While never calling a meeting for a key sub-committee he chaired, Obama's tenure in the Senate has been a platform to satisfy his own enormous vanity and lust for power. Seldom in American politics has there been a more damnable figure. Obama isn't just a candidate from the opposition party, he is an enemy to the American people who must be defeated at all cost. While Obama continues to air political adds that are pure lies and deceptions, the nation's business calls upon him to be a Senator first and candidate second, but chances are he'd be on the wrong side of any solution regardless, he owes it to the State of Illinois to do the job they elected and are paying him to do. While he works with his campaign staff looking through statements from Senator McCain and Governor Sarah Palin for just the right sequence of words that can be taken out of context to create yet another sleazy attack ad, John McCain is answering the call.

What better way to see a small dress rehearsal of what kind of President each man would be. There is a crisis at hand in America which demands leadership. There are always plenty of more politically expedient things to do. John McCain has chosen to deal with the crisis. Obama is out for his own good and nobody else's except for the creepy oportunists and left wing traitors who'd benefit from an Obama Presidency while the United States as we know it goes to hell. Here it is in clear view, the American way against Obama-Nation. Take your pick.

Here's John McCain's statement, read it for yourself. Don't let the press cherry pick it and distort it as they will surely do.

Statement from John McCain:

America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.

Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns. This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward. I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.

It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administrations proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.
Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.
We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday nights debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MLB Pennant Race: Two Series Left -- Hot Races Still Open

The 2008 Regular Season Heads Toward Sunday’s Curtain Call

The final picture is getting clearer with some fascinating possibilities left to be determined. In the American League, this much is known. The Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, and Boston Red Sox will play in October. The Angels will have home field advantage. Odds are that Tampa will be in the number two slot with the Red Sox travelling to LA to start the playoffs. Only a serious downturn by Tampa Bay could switch them with the Red Sox, but given the Rays face the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, that’s not likely. Boston faces the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees, a tougher challenge but at Fenway Park. If the Red Sox ran the table and the Rays just win three games, they’re tied. With seven games left, can anyone seeing Tampa doing worse than 4-3? Meanwhile, the open race is in the Central. The Chicago White Sox have a three game advantage over the Minnesota Twins. The good news for the Twins is that Chicago comes to their house for the next three games. If they sweep the Sox, they’re even and it’s up to the weekend’s results to decide the finish. The Sox host the Indians to finish things up while the Twins host the Kansas City Royals. Should the Twins pull off the sweep, they’d have a slight edge going into the final series. Still, the best bet here is that the White Sox will be playing ball in Florida next week.

The National League is still much more wide open. The only thing that’s for certain is that the Chicago Cubs will have home field advantage through the playoffs. The NL East, NL West, and Wild Card Races are still open. First, the NL East looks like this. The Philadelphia Phillies lead the New York Mets by two games in the loss column while the Phillies host the Atlanta Braves but the Mets face three games against the Cubs before closing Shea Stadium against the pesky Florida Marlins. After the Braves leave Philadelphia, the Phillies get a day off before finishing up against the Washington Nationals. Even if Lou Pinnella decides to sandbag it a little with the Cubs, the Phillies look like they should be hosting playoff action next week. Which ever of these two teams does not win the division is currently in the driver’s seat to take the Wild Card. Right now, the Mets have a one game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers who host the miserable Pittsburgh Pirates before finishing the year hosting the Chicago Cubs. Ironically, by facing the Mets and Brewers back-to-back, the Cubs will have much to say who they might face in the first round of the playoffs. The Brewers have played awful baseball in September; however, the Mets have lost three straight and four out of their last six. The Mets final collapse last year ousted them from playoff contention on the final day of the season last year. Only the guardians of fate know how this one will play out.

Out west it looked like the Los Angeles Dodgers were for certain in the AL West given the Dodgers surge and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ swoon. Just as the command was about to be given to stick a fork in that rattlesnake, it’s done, the ‘Backs have found new life winning 7-3 while the Dodgers have gone 6-4. LA has a two game advantage. The Dodgers host San Diego before heading up the coast to close at San Francisco while the Diamondbacks are in St. Louis but come home to host the Colorado Rockies for their grand finale. The Diamondbacks are going to have to play exceptionally well against a stronger slate of opponents than the Dodgers plus the Dodgers have to slip up a little to push Joe Torre’s squad aside. Were the Dodgers to break even for the rest of the season, the Diamondbacks must win them all to take the Division. That’s not likely.

In the National League, let’s figure Chicago and Philadelphia will host baseball next week. The Phillies can’t host the Mets, a team in the same division, by the Wild Card rules, so setting up any kind of formal lineup for the first round is still uncertain with some very interesting possibilities to follow before Sunday afternoon bring it all to a close.

Sprint Cup: The Monster Roared

The Monster Lived Up To Its Name Giving Roush a 1-2-3 Finish and Busch Feeling Whacked While The Quest for the Cup Whittles Down

For Jack Roush, taming the monster was as easy as 1-2-3 as three of his drivers claimed the top spots in Sunday's competition. Life is good for Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Matt Kenseth gained new life. Kyle Busch blew and engine and all hopes that one of the most dominating performances during a Sprint Cup season would find title hopes obliterated by the Chase format. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hopes faded tremendously as did the likelihood of any Gibbs driver winning it all.

Right now, it looks like a three way competition between two Roush drivers, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle versus Hendricks contender, Jimmie Johnson chasing Cale Yarborough’s accomplishment of three straight titles. Surely, given how quickly a bad finish can ruin a driver’s fortune along with the joys the winning brings, with eight races to go, all kinds of things can happen. However, if this year’s results matter, none of the rest of the field spare Kyle Busch, have hit the high marks necessary to win more than a single race. That could be said when the chase was set of Greg Biffle too, but look how quickly he has pushed his team into the picture with two brilliant wins.

From this point forward, attention goes to more generic tracks spare the 2.66 mile restrictor plate track in Talladega and the ½ mile short track action at Martinsville. In fact, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Texas are all Bruton Smith tracks of somewhat similar design. Sunday’s race in Kansas will be the seventh Cup event held in the land of Dorothy and Toto. The racing wizard was kind to Greg Biffle last year who came home with the victory believing there’s no place like Kansas. Other Cup contenders who’ve enjoyed success at Kansas are Tony Stewart in 2006, and Jeff Gordon won the first two races at the track in 2001 and 2002. Winning in Kansas could surely breathe life into either of those former champ’s hopes at the 2008 trophy.

Kansas Speedway is a pretty generic facility typical of what NASCAR’s new look has provided when new tracks started changing racing’s landscape in the mid 90’s. Given ten points separate Edwards from Biffle and Johnson, every little move counts. One position in the standings or a lap lead means a lot and means more with each week that passes from now until the end.

Who Could Ever Have Imagined? The Changing Face of Sports Culminating in Yankee Stadium Closing Down

The closure of Yankees Stadium, the Ravens dominating the Browns with a trip to Pittsburgh provides pause to reflect on how the face of sports has changed, Pittsburgh was title town with the Bradshaw-era Steelers, World Champs in baseball with the Pirates beating the Orioles in 1979. Yankee Stadium was the greatest palace in all of sports while Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh appeared to be the standard for other cities. Who would ever imagine years later, Baltimore would face Cleveland in football, but the Ravens were the Browns and the Browns were a brand new team. Baltimore would start a revolution in stadium design that would bring NFL football back to Baltimore, temporarily out of Cleveland, and that all four NFL AFC North cities (a new division too) would have brand new stadia with separate stadia for each sport. All of these developments helped lead to the unthinkable, the demise of Yankee Stadium.

The Ravens’ victory over the Cleveland Browns showed not only what a strong performance the Ravens demonstrated never letting mistakes getting them in trouble but taking advantage of every little break the Browns gave them culminating with defensive playmaker, Ed Reed, returning an interception for a touchdown. Jim Leonard filling in as kick returner and free safety stepped up and played spectacular football including a couple of opportunistic returns and a sack. Rookie QB, Joe Flacco, showed he’s not in the same league as the Manning Brothers yet, but he’s sure got it in his gut to get there. The craziest irony of all might be that Mr. “For Certain,” Matt Stover, missed a routine field goal attempt after a spectacular opening drive on offense which temporarily tilted the game advantage to the archrival guys from Cleveland.

Another factor was the “twelfth man,” the Raven fan who showed “purple passion” from start to finish. A number of times during the CBS telecast, their announcing team commented about how raucous the Baltimore fans were and that M&T Bank Stadium is clearly the loudest of all outdoors facilities. Folks can say what they will about the passion of the Redskins’ fans right down I-95 a few exits. They’re a powerful breed too, but even with a substantially larger number of fans in an arena with lots more seats, they’re rather polite compared to their noisy neighbors. What town better screams “football town” better than our Northern Division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Well, hop in your gas guzzler and drive east on I-70. Baltimore is on the town. Baltimore and Pittsburgh have much in common as sports cities in 2008. Both cities have a rich baseball history, but have suffered miserably with pathetic losing teams for years. In fact, the Pirates futility goes all the way back to when they bid bye-bye to Barry Bonds in the early 1990’s. As the 2008 season comes to a close, at least the Orioles look like a team with a future though last night when the Yankees turned out the lights at Yankee Stadium; our O’s had to understand what it feels like to be the Washington Generals playing the Harlem Globetrotters in their glory days. Watching the game on ESPN, you might have caught Jon Miller, the baseball blabbermeister himself, just barely announced the Orioles at bat, on the mound, or who made the plays on the field. No real gripes, this was a night for the fellows in pinstripes, but it was typical of the lack of notice the guys in black and orange get these days.

Think back to 1979 when the Orioles lost to the Pirates in the World Series. Both teams had fine baseball teams. The Orioles went from the classic championship team with Brooks, Frank, and Boog to the Orioles’ magic gang. The Pirates were led by the legendary (and long string of Howard Cossell adjectives) Wilbur Stargell. Both teams were key players each year in their divisions. Both cities had every right to be hot baseball cities like St. Louis or Boston. Pittsburgh had become football heaven. This was the team of guys like Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Mean Joe Green, the “Steel Curtain” and so much more. The Baltimore fans were still under the illusion the Colts were a great team. After all, they won the Eastern Division three years in a row from 1975 under the new-look Colts with QB Bert Jones. Crab City fans were still too innocent to know just what the hard reality was that had just started to play out. The 1979 Colts sucked. They would never see another good Colts team in Baltimore (at least as the home team.) During the World Series coverage, we ignored constant suggestions about the marvelous modern arena, Three Rivers Stadium, represented. We stuck to our guns that baseball should be played on real grass and for football, for god’s sake, Baltimore was home to the world’s largest outdoors insane asylum. Talking down the “old lady” on 33rd street was trash talking our home. We didn’t like it at all.

The Orioles and Pirates were enjoying a little bit of a bump with their team’s success. Baltimore benefitted from the absence of baseball in DC and better marketing. Still once the pregame season got started and the scars of grinding it out on the grid iron took its toll on Pat Santerone’s meticulously landscaped baseball lawn, all interest went to the glory of the blue and gray. Watch the Orioles in the playoffs and World Series on the tube or a Colts game; it’s the Colts, baby.

In 1979, the future of both cities’ sports would have been hard to imagine. For a blue collar town, Pittsburgh appeared to have it all, but it would be years before the Pirates would contend again. In fact, aside for a couple years where the Pirates with Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla played lapdog in the playoffs to the beginnings of the Atlanta Braves dynasty, Pittsburgh baseball would be a gloom affair. The Orioles would continue to be a major power in the AL East through 1983 winning it all in 1983 against the Phillies. It was all downhill for the Colts. They were becoming the laughing stock of the NFL. Every major talent left either being fired or quitting in anger. A hated and drunken owner was seen passing through the airport heading to one city after another shopping his franchise for a more suitable stadium. Baltimore fans in their hometown, blue collar sensibility just didn’t get it. Memorial Stadium was plenty good enough for them! Pretty it up a little and it will be fine. By the fall of 1983, the team was so miserable, even the most loyal fans were starting to stay home on Sundays. With a hometown hero starting to emerge in Cal Ripken, Baltimore was starting to sound like a baseball town, and yes, there were a lot more butts in the bleachers too.

Then came that snowy night in March of 1984, just as the eleven o’clock news was airing on the local channels, something was rumbling out in Owings Mills. Mayflower vans were loading up and the Colts were off to Indianapolis. That fat stinking old drunk, Robert Irsay, surgically removed the heart of the City, the legends of Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Artie Donovan, Gino Marchetti, and even recent dudes like Bert Jones, their trophies, their legacies were heading to Hoosier country where sports was all about college hoops and the Indy 500. Could their be a worse nightmare?

Meanwhile, the glory days of the Steelers were over, but they were still a competitive team worthy of fanatic hometown support. They’d be back as one of the NFL’s elite in the 90’s for sure. However, the Steelers of the mid-to-late 70’s are spoken of in the same most distinguished Football teams of all-time like the Johnny Unitas Colts.

Add insult to injury, who was the stellar football team of the 1980’s, the Washington Redskins! As the Colts’ absence grew longer, the power elites were beginning to talk the talk that the Baltimore-Washington region was one sports market. Baltimore has the baseball team and Washington had the football team. Never mind that Washington had a waiting list for generations for tickets and the Baltimore football culture was nothing like that of DC’s. Still, every Sunday, the Redskins was the game of choice selected by the NFL for Baltimore. The Washington media was all over the Orioles. Beloved Orioles hometown owner, Jerald Hoffberger even sold the team to Washington lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, a fellow with a huge stake in the Redskins, making Baltimore fans even more paranoid the O’s would be heading down I-95 to the DC domain.

By the mid 80’s, Memorial Stadium was even getting the talk about being an inferior baseball stadium. That was hard to swallow as finally the O’s were drawing lots of fans, but it was hard for local folks who felt there was no place like home, we had become very out of step with cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Meanwhile, the DC crowd had much the same attitude about RFK Stadium in DC, but Jack Kent Cooke wasn’t going to move the Redskins anywhere far from DC, but just how far was far?

Soon proposals for new stadia were on the drawing board in both Baltimore and Washington, but the notion of a baseball or football only field seemed a little too exotic. Pittsburgh had the answer, a multipurpose stadium that was designed to house both sports and with artificial turf, the field could be easily converted without the landscaping nightmares of natural sod. The fix was in, the shotgun wedding, the Orioles and the Redskins should be brought together in one home ideally somewhere around Laurel exactly halfway between the two cities. The Orioles could still whisper they were the “Baltimore” Orioles though many local fans were incensed that since the early 70’s, “Baltimore” had been erased from the local jerseys. Naturally, the Redskins would be the Washington Redskins. For the tiny amount of territory the District represents, there’s one hell of a lot of Maryland and Virginia that gets called “Washington.”

Officials were actively looking for land. The locals in Laurel said “no dice.” There was a strong effort to build in the Halethorpe area near the I-95 and Baltimore Beltway intersection still just 20 minutes from the Washington Beltway, but again, the community stood firm. The situation had reached an impasse while both the deficiencies of the two regional stadia became more apparent. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had the model stadium at Three Rivers.

The Redskins reigned supreme further making life hell in Baltimore as the Orioles Dynasty collapsed reaching total futility as the 1988 season began where the Orioles lost 21 games to start the season and future Hall-of-Famer, Eddie Murray, received lusty boos as if it was his fault. However, right at the bottom of the low point, an ailing Edward Bennett Williams, dying from cancer stood arm-in-arm, with Maryland Governor, William Donald Schaeffer, a deal had been struck, not only would the Orioles stay in Baltimore, but they would move to downtown Baltimore. Just a few blocks west of the rapidly growing inner harbor area was a decrepit old railroad yard, “Camden Yards” with a long huge warehouse that could be demolished to not only build a new baseball only park but also have ample room for a football stadium. Hmm, the Redskins in downtown Baltimore, well there was some talk of it! Meanwhile, it Pittsburgh, the Steelers were getting better and, a lean, trim Barry Bonds was swatting the hell out of the ball for the Pirates.

Baltimore sports fans were reassured, but why all the fuss, Memorial Stadium was still good enough for everybody except that “wine and cheese” DC crowd. Football fans had adopted other teams around the NFL. Some would trek to Philadelphia to follow the Eagles. Some adopted the Steelers, yes those Steelers. Others would secretly adopt the Redskins with a good excuse like, “my wife works in the DC area” or “I do business down there a lot and hear all the talk.” The Redskins, quite honestly, were an easy team to love when Joe Gibbs ruled the roost before the Danny-Boy era.

April, 2002, who would realize that what happened in Baltimore would change the face of both baseball and football in perhaps the most radical way since the NFL/AFL merger and baseball expansion in the late 1960’s. Orioles Park in Camden Yards opened. It was humble in its simplicity. They didn’t even bother to tear down the massive warehouse. Instead, it was incorporated into the right field area of the stadium complex housing stores and eateries for the fans on concourse level and team offices above. There was nothing about Orioles Park that had anything to do with the “modern” stadia like Three Rivers in Pittsburgh. It was new because it looked old. The outfield boundaries weren’t a consistent symmetrically proportioned padded fence. There was an open grassy area beyond dead center, the left field area wrapped around from the main part of the stadium, right-center field had bleachers, and then right field around to the foul line featured a field level out-of-town scoreboard, above which was a flag court, the main concourse, and the warehouse that perhaps a mighty slugger might hit with a power blast some day. The park had a timeless feel to it. In fact, Babe Ruth’s uncle had even operated a tavern that once stood somewhere in the outfield area. It was just a leisurely stroll to all the goodies at Harbor Place. There was even a light rail train that would make getting to the field so easy for fans from the rich northern suburbs and later Glen Burnie to the south. Oh, there was one more thing, a commuter train that went right to Union Station in Washington, DC. Yes, the Capitol dome itself, was just minutes away.

Within weeks, echoes were heard all around the sports world. If any city had a miserable sports facility, it was Cleveland, Ohio. There was talk about the Indians moving elsewhere for years, but avuncular Cleveland Browns owner, Art Modell, a lovable almost philanthropic figure, in the Lake Erie region, accommodated the Indians allowing them to play on the field he owned for the football Browns for years. Eventually, ownership went to the city that cared for “the Mistake by the Lake” miserably. The Cleveland Browns, of course, were the most hated rival of the Pittsburgh Steelers too. The state of Ohio took a clue from their brethren in Annapolis, and promptly sought to build Jacobs Field, a stadium constructed in the spitting image of Camden Yards, and guess what? The miserable forgotten Cleveland Indians became one of the top teams in the American League in the 1990’s once they moved to Jacobs Field. Heck, for good measure, the state even provided money to help build the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, just a few steps away from Municipal Stadium. Arlington, Texas under the leadership of some fellow named George W. Bush built a fancy new baseball stadium for the Rangers. Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado, baseball finally expanded to the Rocky Mountain region, and Coors Field would be one of the loveliest of what were rapidly being called, “Camden Clones.”

Who could imagine that Baltimore would be the nation’s leader in the vanguard of what a new stadium is supposed to be? Just like that, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh became old over night. Baseball and football owners alike were talking about “new stadium or else.” The NFL had already seen teams hopping from city to city, the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles (and then back again), the Colts to Indy, and the Cardinals from St. Louis to Arizona. Baseball added two teams in the early 90’s bringing a team to Miami to play in the established manner, a multipurpose stadium, afforded by the Dolphins stadium which was hastily reconfigured to form a baseball diamond every March to play a couple preseason exhibition games to help lure a team, and as just mentioned, a team as added to Denver. Does anyone remember how awkward it was when the Rockies played their first two years in the old Mile High Stadium?

Everywhere there was an NFL team, the stands were almost assured of sellouts every Sunday from New England to Florida to out west. It was long past time to expand. Empowered by the glory of Orioles Park in Camden Yards, Baltimore was the city that knew how to build a beautiful new stadium the right way. Besides that, the city felt a sense of entitlement. Robert Irsay had run “our” team into the ground and scurried it out of town. Folks in St. Louis were feeling much the same way, in fact they even went as far to start construction of a new warehouse-style indoor stadium with all the modern doo-dads. Still, there were new markets anxious to obtain an NFL franchise and open up new territory for the NFL. Charlotte, North Carolina was growing like crazy with lots of big bank money ready to provide that rich skybox revenue that was becoming a new “must have” for all baseball and football franchises. It was hard to imagine the NFL expanding without Charlotte being one of the two cities. The conventional wisdom was that the second team would be either Baltimore or St. Louis. The expansion committee met and was poised to make their announcement, as expected, Charlotte got the first award. The team would play in a beautiful, new football only stadium in downtown. They’d be called the Charlotte Panthers. The committee announced its second announcement would be delayed. All reports were that the owners were absolutely enamored by the Baltimore presentation. The only real factor against them was being so close to Washington, DC and of course, Jack Kent Cooke wanted better surroundings for the Redskins. Cleveland owner, Art Modell was on the committee and thought to be very sympathetic to Baltimore. When the second franchise was awarded a few weeks later, the folks in Baltimore and St. Louis stood in shock at Paul Tagliabue announced the second team would go to Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville, Florida, another pussy cat team, the Jaguars, how could this be?

Baltimore was devastated. The future looked pretty bleak, but Baltimore patted itself on its back for having played the game the right way, putting up an honest good presentation, but that the NFL “commish” was a Washington lawyer and Cooke’s lust for a new field for his own, Baltimore saw that the fix was in. Washington was throwing its weight around to keep the NFL out of Baltimore. The city was still smarting over the way the Colts left town. That was up until then, the wrong way to lure a team. Having been shutdown playing the good boys in the expansion process, the attitude changed. Let us steal a team! Cynics suggested that the Baltimore proposal was so good that the greedy owners would hold it out as a bargaining chip to get better facilities for their own teams. “Pay up or we’ll move to Baltimore.” Rumors surfaced of various teams that were checking out Baltimore including the Redskins. The ultimate insult was leveled by the Commissioner himself, when Tagliabue was asked to comment on what Baltimore should do after raising the funds to lure an NFL team, he suggested the city could “build a museum!”

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, with the blueprint for a glorious new football only stadium was turning into a reality in Charlotte and the Orioles selling out every night with Jacobs Field coming to nearby Cleveland, Three Rivers Stadium turned old over night. Likewise, across the state, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was evoking just as much anger as structurally it was even worse for both sports. With expansion settled, a new game was in play, and all kinds of seemingly unthinkable things happened. Los Angeles, California, the nation’s second largest region, the huge media market, couldn’t possibly lose NFL football, or could they?

Almost overnight, BOTH LA teams packed up and moved. The Raiders left the Coliseum behind for USC alone returning to a prefabricated Oakland field with a hideous new grandstand erected in centerfield to bring in all the modern goodies required for NFL football. Gone was the glorious view of mountains in the distance for baseball fans but nobody went to Oakland A’s games anyway. The Rams split for St. Louis. Who’d be next?

The 1995 NFL season began with a new look. New teams took the field with the Charlotte Panthers in the NFC West and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Central. The Rams took the field in St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland. Meanwhile, there were restless owners with cities ready to erect a new football stadium built to order, not just Baltimore, but also Nashville, TN, Birmingham, AL, San Antoine, TX, or maybe even a trip up to Skydome in Toronto. The baseball strike had ended and suddenly the Cleveland Indians were the hottest team in baseball in their new “Camden Clone” stadium. Also, right at the beginning of that football season, Cal Ripken had broken Lou Gehrig’s “Iron Man” record bringing even more national attention to Baltimore’s beautiful baseball field plus sports big-wigs from around the nation saw just how serious Baltimore was to be able to act as the host of nationally prominent sporting events. No longer was Baltimore that cheesy little town where the locals talked funny and called yah “hon,” a miserable traffic jam on I-95 from the big powerful cities of Philadelphia and New York heading south to do business in the Nation’s Capital.

On an unusually hot, humid rainy night in Baltimore, November 1st, local TV station broke a story on the 11 o’clock news, the Cleveland Browns were heading to Baltimore. The next morning in a hastily arranged news conference in the parking lot of Orioles Park, stood Art Modell, the Cleveland Browns owner, the governor of Maryland, mayor of Baltimore, and chairman of the Maryland stadium authority with a display board behind them. The Cleveland Browns would begin play in Baltimore in 1996. They’d play two years at old Memorial Stadium before moving into the ultimate open air stadium just across the lot from Orioles Park.

The entire sports world trembled. Baltimore was indignant that it should have received that treatment a decade earlier when the Colts, the great Colts, the team of Johnny Unitas and all that, left town. What the Colts’ fans forget was that by 1983, they weren’t coming out to Memorial Stadium any longer with often crowds around just 22,000 watching NFL football. The 1995 Browns were a lousy team, but had just been in the playoffs recently, and the Cleveland fans still packed the “Mistake by the Lake.” In fact, their was one section of end zone bleachers, infamous through out the league, as the “Dawg Pound” where fans dressed up like dogs and fueled with lots of beer in their bellies pelted the opposing team and officials with dog biscuits. For some, that was what being a “blue collar fan” was all about. That’s an argument for another day, but clearly that kind of fan, the average guy who purchased season tickets was a secondary concern to having corporate big shots luxuriating in their elegant suites, all of the new NFL venues having well over 100 such suites with all the money going right to the team. The shock of Cleveland losing its team and media attention it drew did provide for something that Baltimore fans would envy. Cleveland would only be without football for three years. All the Browns legacy would remain in Cleveland. The Baltimore team would begin operations with a fresh slate, essentially as an expansion team, with a new name, colors, and a clean slate for future team records. Thus the Browns became the Baltimore Ravens. The old “Mistake by the Lake” was demolished and on that site a new Browns stadium would be built complete with plenty of those corporate luxury suites but also an area that would be dubbed once again, “The Dawg Pound.” The new Browns would play in the AFC Central against their former arch-rival Steelers and the hated Ravens, their former team in new clothes.

Now, back in Pittsburgh, and across the NFL and Major League baseball, any city that did not have stadia to rival what Baltimore had accomplished was put on notice, work out a deal for a new house or it’s farewell. Pittsburgh got its deal. The Steelers would play in a beautiful new waterfront stadium, Heinz field. A few blocks away, the Pirates would play in one of the most interesting of all the post-Camden yards fields, PNC park, with distinctly Western Pennsylvania architecture and a location where a strong lefty swinger could splash balls in the river, Pittsburgh became one city who could truly rival Baltimore for its lovely new sports palaces. In between the two, the stadium that seemed so modern when the two cities last met in the World Series in 1979 was blown to pits to provide parking and open space between the two new facilities.

The NFL still had an open spot for NFL expansion while existing cities were scurrying about building their new palatial coliseums. Assuredly that would give the NFL what it needed, a team in Los Angeles. With supreme interest from the television industry and the league itself, every effort was made to put a team back in Los Angeles but the locals couldn’t come up with a stadium site. The old Coliseum simply was not acceptable any longer except perhaps on a temporary basis. The stadium in Anaheim which hosted the Rams was already being reconstructed as what it was designed to be to begin with, a baseball only field. Houston, Texas yet another city victimized by the game of team owners’ high-stakes game of musical chairs had lost its team to Nashville, Tennessee. With plans for a lavish new stadium ready-to-go from day one, Houston gained the final expansion slot creating an NFL realignment securing Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati all playing in new open air stadia in the same division. Not a single one of those fields stood when Art Modell announced his move to Baltimore.

Baseball had a bit of unfinished business that by the early 2000’s had become insufferable. Montreal, Quebec clearly had no interest whatsoever in baseball. The Expos needed a new home. After two rounds of expansion yielding teams in Florida with little fan support in Tampa and Miami, where was a team to go? The league initially proposed contraction, eliminating two teams one being the Expos. That would never fly with the players’ association, and there was a still lot of money looking to bring baseball to either northern Virginia or Washington, DC to serve the nation’s Capital. As much as the Baltimore Orioles fought the move, that Baltimore and Washington could still be a unified sports market was pretty much demolished with the Ravens having recently won a Super Bowl trophy. The Expos would become the Washington Nationals. Somehow it seems few would notice DC even had a team aside, from some folks in Baltimore counting more empty seats, despite opening a new ballpark this year just south of the Capitol.

Ironically, beginning the 2008 season, Orioles Park at Camden Yards now has the distinction of being one of the oldest stadia in baseball as more than half of the current baseball diamonds have been erected since the Baltimore miracle shocked the sports world in 1992. Likewise, many cities have new football fields since the Ravens moved into their new home in 1998.

The Ravens clobbered Cleveland yesterday playing to a full house full of crazy fans. Next week it’s on to Pittsburgh the night after the Orioles would have closed up shop for another season of futility still boasting a better record both in wins and losses and paid spectators than the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the lowly Tampa Bay Rays visit Baltimore on their way to the playoffs, the game will be surrounded by the site of empty “Camden” green seats. How many baseball fans in “Charm City” even clicked on the TV to see the Orioles play the Yankees in the last game ever in Yankees Stadium which brings this writing to a final irony – what’s going on in New York?

What venue could ever seem more immobile and permanent than Yankees Stadium? Sure the “House that Ruth Built” seemed pretty shabby in the early 1970’s as the “modern” multipurpose stadia sprung up in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Diego, Cincinnati. Shea Stadium was just beginning to develop its critics as a poorly executed design. To address that, the New York Giants were evicted to setup shop across the river in the Meadowlands where Giants Stadium served as the template for many of the new modern football fields. Yankees Stadium was shutdown for a major sprucing up. When it reopened in 1976, the field was still grass, the ghosts of its legends were still present, but it served as the most elegant and mighty fortress in all of sports.

The Camden Yards revolution created the unthinkable, after half of baseball had moved into new modern baseball only parks, Yankee Stadium itself was beyond refurbishing to make it viable in the new age of baseball thus next April, the New York Yankees will take the field across the street in a 21st century version of the old Bronx madhouse, every detail carefully engineered to emulate Yankee stadium of yesterday but processing all the modern fixings and even more than what every major league team demanded since Baltimore built its monument to the great national pastime in the very neighborhood of Babe Ruth’s youth. Shea Stadium will fall as Citi Field opens for the Mets, a stadium designed partially harkening back to Ebbets Field, home of New York’s Brooklyn Dodgers, but more like Baltimore’s Camden Yards whose architects studied the old ballparks like Ebbets Field and Wrigley Field to create an atmosphere designed to seem as timeless as the game itself. Across the river, construction moves along to put the Giants and the Jets in a new football stadium befitting of the nations’ largest and most powerful city.

All is well for football fans in those old blue collar cities and their baseball dreams are there for the making if their teams can find the right formula to bring cheering fans back in through the gates. Average Joe fan can take great delight that for once; they led the way having something that only now New York is getting for itself while LA-LA land has only USC, a college team, to follow for its pigskins glory.

All is not well in a few select cities with pro baseball and football teams playing in obsolete facilities. The threat of a largely league financed stadium in Los Angeles ready to host a NFL team has the gun loaded pointed right at the civic officials who don’t fall over when their NFL team demands a new field. Meanwhile, baseball has some unsatisfactory venues demanding attention but franchise owners don’t have the kind of high power bargaining chip of greener pastures to threaten their cities into building their new estates.

Right now, the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49er’s, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, and Oakland Raiders all have stadia far from the standards set by the recent wave of new construction. Likewise, although playing in a new 1990’s era stadium, the NFL’s decision to put a team in Jacksonville has not been blessed with adoring fans. Will one or two of these teams be headed for Los Angeles in the next five years? It’s hard NOT to imagine. In baseball, the Oakland Athletics have had an on again off again plan to move further south in a new ballpark with wealthy high tech financing. With two world championships, the Florida Marlins still have not secured a fan base often having the most embarrassing fan support in the whole sport. The Marlins have a tentative deal for a new facility, but county commissioners and pending lawsuits could still block the way. After 2010, they will not have a home in Dolphins Stadium as the football team seeks to consolidate its value to improve its field as football only field. On the other coast, there’s hardly a drearier more miserable place to play ball than Tropicana Field in the Tampa Bay region. Proposals are afloat for a retractable roof new home possibly on the grounds of Al Lang stadium, Tampa’s old minor league field. The latest news is those plans have been scrapped. What are now the two elderly National League parks, Wrigley Field and Dodgers Stadium face huge renovations including the possibility that the Cubbies could play a few games in South Chicago during the heat of the construction.

The challenge for baseball is far greater than the handful of NFL teams looking for bold new homes. There are plenty of areas where an NFL team could setup shop and do extremely well take the southern end of our Chesapeake region as an example. Couldn’t the Tidewater, Virginia area (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, etc.) easily fill the stands with over 70,000 screaming fans for eight Sundays? Of course they could, and there’s a lot of money down there now too. The Redskins surely wouldn’t like it as that area is a hot “secondary” market for the skins. That’s just one of many areas, Birmingham, Alabama; Portland Oregon; San Antoine, Texas; Columbus, Ohio, and maybe even Oklahoma City are all places that immediately come to mind as capable of top tier football. The baseball season is so much trickier. How does a region support 81 home dates? Portland, Oregon has expressed some interest. Would central North Carolina be a possibility? The area has lots of money, loves sports, but would Charlotte draw fans from as far away as Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro/Winston-Salem. Perhaps, the reverse scenario would be better as Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro/Winston-Salem are closer together. Still, the goal would be to attract around 30,000 fans on a consistent basis for all those home dates. One would think, North Carolina with the banking and high tech industries that are flourishing could easily fill the need for corporate sponsors, but could the fellows who follow auto racing and college basketball develop loyalties to a major league baseball team? Some studies suggest the best possible place to relocate a team would be to add a third team to the New York market. The Yankees and Mets would never let that happen. Baseball, as a sport, needs to do a lot of soul searching on how it runs the sport as paying fans are in short supply in many cities even after building lovely new ballparks.

For Baltimore, the possibility of a packed Orioles Park at Camden Yards still is a good one if the Orioles make the right moves. With Baltimore as their home, strong secondary market in South Central Pennsylvania and being in easy reach of Washington for American league fans or fans who want to sample some of both leagues, winning combined with the right public relations efforts could make empty seats hard to find once again in what is still baseball’s most charming new park. It’s not just that the yard is a great place to watch the game but it is situated is an area rich with things to do before and after the game. Right off of I-95 and with great rail access, it’s also very accessible.

Washington’s future as a baseball city is harder to predict. The Redskins can develop a hometown identity for the football season easily, but given the job base of Washington and the ebb and flow of Washington activity, the task is tougher though the theoretical population base is greater than Baltimore’s. Aside from tourists, Washington practically shuts down for business in August. The Nation’s Capital is a transient region based on the political fortunes of whose in the White House and Capital Hill. The commercial activity is in Northern Virginia where the high tech industry is taking hold along with a huge service sector. Go to the north too far, and that’s Orioles country. A fan doesn’t have to get too far from the Washington Beltway before the cruise up to Baltimore via I-95, the Baltimore/Washington Parkway or I-97 is an easier drive than to get into the core of DC where there is no direct freeway connection but a fine Metro setup.

Over the mountains in Pittsburgh, population has dwindled since the glory days of the Pirates and aside from the little tease of the Barry Bonds/Bobby Bonilla days, the generations are slipping by since the Pirates were one of the key teams in the National League. Winning cures a lot of ills, and the Pirates ownership is showing little interest in retaining any key players. Sadly, Pittsburgh is another puppy mill for the big dogs. Unlike Baltimore, the secondary markets are not as strong as Youngstown, Ohio and territories directly north and to the west start getting into Cleveland Indians’ territory.

Sadly, for cities like Pittsburgh and possibly Baltimore too, the real secret to success rests in changing the operation of the sport itself. The revenue gap even with luxury taxes between the big market teams and the rest of the field are huge. Small market teams must labor for years for a one or two year window to go for it all. Quickly, players become arbitration and free-agent eligible far beyond what towns like Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh can afford. While Tampa Bay triumphs this year in the American League East, how can they sustain their competitiveness against a division including the two most active teams in baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox? Some realignment might help, but if the Orioles were to move out of a division with the Yankees and Red Sox, they might not to need the talent to fight those teams for somewhere around eighteen games a year, but they also provide intense rivalries that make the game exciting. Sadly, so much of the Orioles spectator support consists of New York and Boston fans who overpower the local fans when those teams come to town.

Pulling this all together, look at how much more talk there is about baseball concerning things off the field, not on the field. For the Ravens, Steelers, and Redskins, talk is all about what goes on preparing for and playing the games. All three teams have their own kind of absolutely devote fans. For their baseball counterparts, talk is generally starts with something like, “What will it take for……?” with lots of difficult questions where answers are not immediately forthcoming.

Meanwhile, just up the road in the “Big Apple,” the New York Giants are 3-0, the defending Super Bowl Champions. Their new home is under construction. The Yankees open new Yankee Stadium next year that will surely enhance their finances tremendously. The two teams that play New York’s eternal bride’s maid roll, the Mets and the Jets, are headed for modern new homes too, although the Jets will share their future in the same stadium as the Giants but with the ability to make it look much more like home for both New York teams. When fans look forward to the next five years, it’s not hard to imagine a Super Bowl Champion coming from any of the five teams we’ve focused on here. However, when it comes to baseball, the notion of a possible Orioles/Pirates World Series appears to belong only to history books.