Saturday, May 22, 2010
I find it curious that we never see the bible-thumper crowd carrying this quote around with them. I guess the Family Research Council and the anti-gay marriage crowd never wanted anyone to hear other things quoted in the bible - things that don't fit their current issue.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I sent the following email to the Florida State League this morning regarding the most horrible "Umpiring" I have ever seen in a baseball game anywhere.
Dear Florida State League
I am a loyal fan of Minor League baseball and enjoy watching it immensely, so much so that I purchased season tickets to the new Bradenton Marauders home games. So far this year I have missed only two games.
In all of the minor league games that I have watched this year and last, I have never ever seen umpiring as atrocious as that performed last night (May 14, 2010) in Bradenton by Florida State League umpires Allen Alvarez and Luke Hamilton. If there is a minor league for minor league umpires to train in these two need to be sent down as soon as possible.
In the top of the ninth inning of last night's game between the Fort Myers Miracle and the Bradenton Marauders there was a controversial play at first base where Paul Kelly of Fort Myers hit a ground ball to the Marauders second baseman who threw the ball to Marauders first baseman Eric Huber. Kelly crossed the bag while Huber held the ball in his glove. Huber then DROPPED the ball and base umpire Luke Hamilton called Kelly OUT.
I am 58 years old. I have played baseball or watched baseball since I was five years old. In those 53 years of watching baseball or playing baseball it was always my understanding that when there is a play at a base and the defensive player drops the ball, the offensive player is safe. Last night Luke Hamilton reversed 53 years of baseball rules and logic with one bone-headed call. It was so obvious that Kelly was safe that a blind person could have seen it. The call was so egregious that the Bradenton Maruaders fans all started to jeer the call even though the call was to Bradenton's advantage.
A predictable argument ensued involving the Fort Myers coach (their manager had been tossed from the game earlier by a very insecure Allen Alvarez when Alvarez was challenged on a call by Manager Mauer. Rather than be reasonable, Alvarez immediately ejected Mauer). At the end of the ninth inning argument over the play at first base, home plate umpire Alvarez indicated to the score keeper that the remainder of the game was being played under protest.
It should have been and deserved to be. The actions throughout last night's game by Umpires Alvarez and Hamilton (actions affecting both teams) were enough to cause the entire game to be played under protest.
I don't know how much training umpires get before they are hired to call games in the Florida State League but these two individuals clearly need more training. They also need to learn how to handle situations in an adult, professional manner. Tossing the Fort Myers manager for a simple disagreement was not the right choice to make in that situation. Watching Umpire Hamilton call someone out who was clearly safe (AND from our opposing team) demonstrates that he needs to learn the rules and be more honest.
It is my most sincere hope that other fans of baseball have complained to you about either or both umpires Alvarez and Hamilton. If there have been other complaints about them and their abilities then I highly recommend some corrective action. As it stands now these two gentlemen are very far out of their league and have no business having the final say on any actions on a baseball diamond.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Just before leaving for tonight's Bradenton Marauder game vs the Daytona Cubs in Bradenton I received an email announcing the unprecedented occurrence of a Bahama Mockingbird in Fort DeSoto County Park in St. Petersburg, just on the other side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Needing this bird for my 2010 Florida Big Year I made a command decision to run up to Fort DeSoto (just 40 minutes from home) to look for the bird. If successful in my search I could be back in Bradenton (I figured) by the fourth inning.
With luck I got the bird within minutes of arriving at Fort DeSoto so I abruptly left headed back over the bridge to Bradenton. It was the 359th species I have seen in Florida so far in 2010. The record for a "Big Year" is 367 species so I'm well within reach of the record with more than half the year to go. But I digress.
Arriving in Bradenton about 8:15 p.m. the game with the Cubs was already in the SIXTH inning! The teams were in a pitching duel - Daytona had one hit and the Marauders had zero.
Before tonight's game the Daytona Cubs had the worst record in the Florida State League and the Marauders were 0.5 games out of first place in the South Division of the FSL. It should have been like David and Goliath out there (we being Goliath) but things don't always work according to plan. And when I entered McKechnie Field the Cubs were ahead by 1-0.
This was a pitchers duel.
Bradenton scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to take a 2-1 lead however the Cubs came back in the top of the ninth with a run tying the score at 2-2. It was a nail-biter.
The umpires tonight were two of the worst umpires I have ever seen. Calling things incorrectly on the bases was Roberto Medino, a waste of flesh from a small town in Puerto Rico. Calling from behind home plate was Brandon Henson, a loser of the highest order. How either of these jackals was ever hired to do umpiring is simply beyond me. Last Saturday night in Port Charlotte these two clowns had to be escorted from the field by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Department after the game because so many people were upset with them. Last night in Bradenton a city police officer, wearing his gun and a taser, was so incensed at these two jerks that he stood at the edge of the field and screamed at them to get their act together.
They were no better this evening.
By the end of the 8th inning I had said very little in the heckling department although I was happy to hear many people around me heckling in my place including one woman who was coming up with some great lines! In the bottom of the 8th inning on an particularly ridiculous call I yelled at the umpire "Hey Ump!!! Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile." This drew a lot of laughs and also a comment from someone sitting behind me who said "Watch out, he's started again."
The real excitement in the game came in the proverbial bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied 2-2 and one out the scenario went like this:
Bradenton Bottom 9th
* Pitcher Change: Jeff Beliveau replaces Marco Carrillo.
* Austin McClune strikes out swinging.
* Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Tony Sanchez replaces Erik Huber.
* Tony Sanchez singles on a line drive to right fielder Nelson Perez.
* Greg Picart singles on a line drive to center fielder Kyler Burke. Tony Sanchez to 3rd.
* Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Starling Marte replaces Tony Sanchez.
* Jeff Beliveau intentionally walks Brock Holt. Greg Picart to 2nd.
* Robbie Grossman hit by pitch. Starling Marte scores. Greg Picart to 3rd. Brock Holt to 2nd.
It was sweet. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, runners on first and third, the Daytona Cubs manager called for an intentional walk of shortstop Brock Holt, himself a damned good player and someone to be reckoned with at the plate.
The bases are now full with one out. Walking Brock was a perfect strategic move because now any play at any base was an out, and with luck they could get a double play ending the threat.
However things didn't work according to plan.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, Center Fielder Robbie Grossman comes to the plate. Robbie is a good all around hitter but nothing really special. He dug in at the plate, took a few practice swings, scratched his balls a couple times and stood there waiting for the pitch.
I had visions of a grand slam coming up. Instead, the Daytona Cubs pitcher HIT Robbie with the first pitch. He went to first base and when Robbie went there, Starling Marte, the pinch runner on third scored the winning run and the Marauders WON this highly important game by the score of 3-2!!!!!
After tonight's win the Marauders are back at the top of the Florida State League's South Division ahead of the Palm Beach Cardinals (defeated tonight by the Dunedin Blue Jays 8-5) by 0.5 games. And just as good, the Charlotte Stone Crabs were defeated by the Lakeland Flying Tigers 4-2 so the Stone Crabs are in third place now 1.5 games behind the Marauders.
Life is good.
Some of my earlier predictions about Marauders players are not panning out the way I hoped they would. For one, Quincy Latimore seems to be in an endless slump. I don't remember the last time he got a hit and Quincy probably doesn't either. I'm not sure what's going through his head but it's not baseball. The same can almost be said for catcher Tony Sanchez who was last year's number 1 draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Granted, Tony had a clutch hit in the 9th inning tonight and was instrumental in Bradenton's win but its been since forever that he's gotten a hit. We were just lucky.
Outfielder Starling Marte is another disappointment. Starling started off strong but seems to be fading like a flare now. He was with the Gulf Coast League (Rookie League) Pirates last year and I am starting to think he needs to go back to them. First baseman Calvin Anderson is another person who is rapidly becoming a disappointment. At 6'7" Calvin is by far the tallest player on the Marauders roster however tallness doesn't translate into efficiency. When I see Calvin come to the plate I think to myself "Here's the designated out." He cannot hit a fastball to save himself. Toss him a curve and he will murder it. As one Marauder pitcher who regularly sits behind me said one night about Calvin (stealing a line from Kevin Costner in "Bull Durham") "Calvin couldn't hit water if he fell out of a fucking boat."
And he couldn't.
Tonight the Marauders play the Fort Myers Miracle. As usual I will be in Section 1, Row 1, Seat 1, primed to provide important heckling action as needed. Out of respect for him I will not heckle Miracle shortstop Chris Cates, but all the rest of them are fair game. The last time the Marauders played the Miracle in Bradenton I got on third baseman Debinson Romero's case so intensely that after he struck out the fourth time he walked into the dugout and broke his bat against the wall of the dugout. It's my hope that I can aggravate him to that point again tomorrow night. That's what heckler's do.
Monday, May 10, 2010
The conservative biased media are having a field day spewing lies about how the Obama Administration is doing nothing to counteract the horrific oil spill that British Petroleum has foisted on the Gulf of Mexico.
The scene in the digital image above was taken earlier this afternoon from the Interior Department's command post in Mobile, Alabama.
Mobile? Why Mobile? The oil spill isn't anywhere near Mobile. What is the Obama Administration doing in Mobile when the spill is in Louisiana?
Questions I'm sure the conservative-biased media would be asking.
However there are government command posts in place in Louisiana. The Acting Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service are both in Houma Louisiana with Interior Department officials working feverishly to stave off as much of the ecological disaster as possible.
Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Department officials are also in Mobile Alabama setting up contingencies for IF the oil gets that far east. Moreover there are Interior Department officials (in the person of the Director of the National Park Service and others) just up the road from me in St. Petersburg Florida making the same preparations there as they are in Mobile. Just in case.
The irony of all the complaining about Obama Administration is that British Petroleum is to blame for this disaster not the Federal government.
It was British Petroleum that obtained the drilling lease. It was British Petroleum that hired a contractor (TransOcean) to drill the well and it was British Petroleum that REFUSED to include in their contingency planning any possibility of a mega disaster that British Petroleum has created for us all now. British Petroleum did this not the Obama Administration.
So far what has the Obama Administration done? Damned near everything they could. Barack was in Louisiana a couple days after the spill first occurred meeting with people and getting things rolling.
What happened with Hurricane Katrina? Bush was at a fund raiser in San Diego and as an after thought had Air Force 1 fly 11,000 feet over New Orleans. Remember this picture below? The Chimp "assessing" the damage from 11,000 feet in the comfort of his jet?
Contrast that photo with this video of Barack in Louisiana right after the spill.
No hemming and hawing, no worrying about who gets what in campaign contributions from British Petroleum. He told it like it is rather than his predecessor telling his Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency "you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie."
British Petroleum laments the fact that the oil spill has cost them $350 million "and counting". Before you get all teary-eyed worrying about British Petroleum's costs, remember that in the last QUARTER alone, British Petroleum's after-tax profit was $ 5 BILLION and change. That is one quarter of the year - 3 months. The $350 so far is chump change to these bastards.
The biggest impediment to resolving the oil spill issue right now is getting the well head capped - its 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. This will be no easy task. Estimates are that it will be at least 90 days until that can happen. The well is spewing 5,000 barrels of crude oil per day. There are 42 gallons in a barrel. 5,000 barrels x 42 gallons per barrel = 210,000 gallons each and every day. If it goes on for 90 days that is 18,900,000 gallons of crude oil gushing into the ocean and onto our shores.
Already we are finding oiled birds in Breton National Wildlife Refuge - a sacrosanct sanctuary for nesting seabirds that has been invaded by oil.
Whether it takes 9 days or 900 days to fix this problem the Obama Administration in the persons of hundreds of dedicated Interior Department employees will be there 24 hours a day 7 days a week doing what needs to be done to stave off as much damage as humanly possible.
To anyone who gets their "news" about this spill from the Faux "News" channel and who believes that my former colleagues (and thereby the Obama Administration) aren't doing what needs to be done to ease the pain on the environment, I offer you two words of advice.
This past Saturday, May 8, 2010, was the day of the North American Migration Count, a survey designed to provide a snapshot of the advance of bird migration across the North American continent. The brain child of a birder from Annapolis, Maryland (near by) the NAMC design is centered on the boundaries of each of the counties or parishes in the lower 48 states. In the boundaries intrepid groups of ornithologists and birders try to find as many birds of as many species as possible in a 24 hour period. Its akin to the better known Christmas Bird Count that has been run by the National Audubon Society for 110 years (and its because its run by the National Audubon Society that I refuse to participate in Christmas Bird Counts). Christmas Bird Counts are restricted to 15-mile diameter circles whereas the NAMC is based on county boundaries.
For the 2010 NAMC I was asked to count birds in the eastern half of Glades County Florida (shown in red on the map below).
I started the count at 5:55 a.m. while standing on the verge of County Highway 720 about 1/2 mile north of the Glades/Hendry County line. The habitat here is extensive sugar cane. Endless sugar cane in fact. Still I was surprised to find an abundance and diversity of birds in the cane, perhaps because the cane was recently sprouted. Maybe going back in a couple months when the cane is as tall as a Nebraska corn field in August there won't be any birds to be found?
Still at 5 minutes to six yesterday morning there were Common Nighthawks and Common Yellowthroats in abundance every time I stopped the car and got out to listen.
As the sun rose and I could see instead of just hear, this is the scene that unfolded in front of me.
Seemingly endless sugar cane. Despite this being called Glades County, there are no Everglades left in Glades County. The area around the southwest shore of Lake Okeechobee is endless sugar cane. Its because of reduced flows coming from the Lake and the endless sea of sugar cane that the real Everglades are in such ecological trouble now. We are now spending billions and billions of dollars to restore the Everglades and slow down the ecological damage that water development and sugar cane have wrought on the Everglades.
Despite the bleak environment I was able to find some interesting birds in the sea of cane. Most interesting to me was seven or eight migrant Dickcissels singing from the edge of the cane at several places where I stopped.
Dickcissel spend the winter on the llanos of Venezuela. Being in the endless sea of grasses in a sugar cane field must have made them think they were back in Venezuela. Along with the Dickcissels were several flocks of migrating Bobolink, themselves recently returned from the Pampas grasslands of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
Other nice surprises in the endless sea of sugar cane was a pair of River Otters along the side of the road and a Bobcat, only the sixth alive one I've ever seen!
I left the sugar cane fields after one hour and fifteen minutes with a surprising list of 38 species seen or heard. Curious among them was several Sedge Wrens that I heard singing in almost the same places as the Dickcissels.
I next stopped in Moore Haven at the Moore Haven Lock and Damn (all human-made blockages of naturally flowing rivers or streams are spelled DAMN not dam as the popular literature would have you believe).
The Moore Haven Lock and Damn is an important structure in the decline and destruction of the Everglades. From it flows the Caloosahatchee River, part of the early plan to drain the Everglades one ditch at a time. I made a point of walking out on to the edge of the damn and urinating on it - its the only logical response I can think of for something that destroys the way nature is supposed to work.
From the area behind the damn I picked up several new species for the day including the first Limpkins of the count as several Great Crested Flycatchers. The number of migrants on this migration count was decidedly limited.
Leaving Moore Haven with 44 species for the day I drove up US 27 to Palmdale and the area around Fisheating Creek. Thirty years ago Fisheating Creek was THE place to find Short-tailed Hawk in the United States. However that has now changed and they are a bit more widespread than back then. As many times as I have been along Fisheating Creek looking for Short-tailed Hawk I have still not seen one. Saturday was no different.
It was here around Palmdale that I turned up a few actual migrants including Blue Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. I got the latter by first hearing its distinctive call note that you can hear at the end of this recording.
Returning from Palmdale to Moore Haven I found the first of two road-killed Alligators along Highway 27. I had never seen a road-killed gator before Saturday and then I found two on the same stretch of road. Something tells me there are a lot of gators in that part of Florida.
Between Palmdale and Moore Haven and away from the endless sugar cane I found some interesting and refreshing patches of remnant south Florida prairie.
The prairie was filled with Eastern Meadowlarks singing their distinctive song from all possible locations and also the occasional pair of Sandhill Cranes with their one colt of the year. For only the second time in my life I saw two adult Sandhill Cranes with two colts - something that happens only about 1 percent of the time. Very cool. I also found the only Crested Caracara of the day in this kind of habitat.
Returning to Moore Haven about noon I ate an alleged chicken sandwich at Burger King and moved on north and east along State Highway 78 to Lockport along the west shore of Lake Okeechobee. At 700 square miles Okeechobee is the second largest lake inside the border of the United States.
There is an abundance of wetlands along and adjacent to the west shore of the humongous dike (the Herbert Hoover dike - this was a logical name. The dike is is destructive so its named after a Republican) that rings the lake shore. In the wetlands I found all the standard herons and egrets and ibis you would expect to find in Florida.
At Lockport I took County Highway 721 north through the Brighton Indian Reservation.
At about the boundary of the Reservation and the beginning of Lykes Brothers extensive ranch I found a small wetland on the east side of the road that was teeming with bird life. The most obvious and conspicuous bird here was Black-necked Stilt. There were at least six pairs of Stilt's here each squabbling and carrying on with the other pairs and just generally making a lot of noise. It had been several years since I last heard a conglomeration of Black-necked Stilt's so this afternoon's encounter was most enjoyable.
Also present with the Stilt's on this wetland was several White-rumped Sandpipers, probably the most long distance migrant of the day.
White-rumped Sandpipers nest in the High Arctic of Canada and near Barrow Alaska and winter in Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America. I remember well in January 2003 finding all sorts of White-rumped Sandpipers foraging on a saline wetland not far from Ushuaia, Argentina, the southermost city in the world and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
The only wildlife species that was truly present in abundance today was the Love Bug (Plecia nearctica) an aggravating and super abundant member of the March Fly family.
There were gazillions of them all over the place in and out of the sugar cane fields. I killed several thousand of them simply driving down the road. Every car or truck I saw with Glades or Hendry County license plates were also covered from head to toe with dead Love Bugs.
The Bradenton Marauders were playing the Charlotte Stone Crabs at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night so I had to leave Glades County about 4:00 or so to get back in time for the game. By mid-afternoon the temperature was about 88 degrees F and it was sultry as hell so few birds were moving. It was a wise time to get going out of there.
My species total for the day (shown below) was 83 species which I considered to be very good given the geographic location of Glades County and the near total lack of extensive forest to attract migrant songbirds. Still it was a nice way to spend a day in the field getting to feel like I was a biologist again.
Species Total = 83
Individuals = 3658
Route Followed: ½ mile north of Glades/Hendry County line on County Highway 720 to US 27 s. of Moore Haven. Area around Moore Haven lock and damn. North on 27 to Jct with SR 78. NO counting along highway until Palmdale. Area around Palmdale and Fisheating Creek. NO counting along highway back to SR 78. North on 78 to Lockport. North on County Road 721 through Indian reservation to the Highlands County line.
Species Tally * indicates a species I’d consider actually still migrating
Numbers are the number of individuals of each species counted.
Pied-billed Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 11
Anhinga – 19
Least Bittern – 1
Great Blue Heron – 5
Great Egret – 81
Snowy Egret – 53
Little Blue Heron – 34
Tricolored Heron – 68
Cattle Egret – 319
Green Heron – 41
Black-crowned Night-Heron – 2
White Ibis – 205
Glossy Ibis – 109
Roseate Spoonbill – 12
Wood Stork – 13
Mottled Duck – 31
Black Vulture – 99
Turkey Vulture – 84
Osprey – 7
Swallow-tailed Kite – 1
Bald Eagle – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 9
Crested Caracara – 2
Northern Bobwhite – 16
King Rail – 1
Purple Gallinule – 3
Common Moorhen – 11
Limpkin – 11
Sandhill Crane – 15
Killdeer – 10
Black-necked Stilt – 23
* Lesser Yellowlegs – 1
* Least Sandpiper – 4
* White-rumped Sandpiper – 3
Laughing Gull – 5
* Forster’s Tern – 2
Rock Pigeon 13
Eurasian Collared- Dove – 18
White-winged Dove – 5
Mourning Dove – 186
*Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
Common Nighthawk – 83
*Chimney Swift – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 10
Downy Woodpecker – 2
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
Great Crested Flycatcher – 12
* Eastern Kingbird – 8
Purple Martin – 17
Northern Rough-winged Swallow – 6
* Bank Swallow – 1
* Barn Swallow - 1
Blue Jay – 16
American Crow – 9
Fish Crow – 21
Crow sp. – 2
Tufted Titmouse – 4
Carolina Wren – 12
* Sedge Wren 8
* Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Northern Mockingbird – 108
Brown Thrasher – 2
Loggerhead Shrike – 9
White-eyed Vireo – 29
* Red-eyed Vireo – 3
Northern Parula – 7
* Yellow Warbler – 2
* American Redstart – 2
* Ovenbird – 1
Common Yellowthroat – 310
Northern Cardinal – 25
* Blue Grosbeak – 2
* Indigo Bunting – 3
* Dickcissel – 8
Eastern Towhee – 8
* Bobolink – 89
Red-winged Blackbird – 768
Eastern Meadowlark – 79
Boat-tailed Grackle – 450
Common Grackle – 22
Brown-headed Cowbird – 4
* Baltimore Oriole – 3
This last Saturday was spent in Glades County Florida where I participated in the North American Migration (birds) Count. That will be the subject of the next post.
Friday night before the count I crashed in Clewiston, Florida, a not-so-bad town on the southwest shore of Lake Okeechobee, about 90 miles north of Miami. The local Chamber of Commerce has dubbed Clewiston "America's Sweetest Town" because of the super abundance of highly subsidized sugar that is grown all over the place around the south shore of Okeechobee. Its also the recipient of huge doses of pesticides several times yearly AND tons of fertilizer. No wonder there are huge algal blooms way down stream in Florida Bay. However I digress.
I spent Friday night at the Best Western of Clewiston because there were no Hiltons or Hampton Inns in town and I was not about to stay in a Holiday Inn Express! The Best Western is a very nice alternative to a Hilton/Hampton. On checking in I asked the person behind the counter if there was any place in town to get good Cuban food. Immediately she recommended Julio's Cafe Tropical, about one mile back to the east from the Best Western.
From the outside Julio's looks like a complete and total dive. Inside is not much better. There is no ambiance to the place at all. There are no decorations or paintings or anything else on the walls except paint and the table I sat at rocked and rolled like a California earthquake. But experience has taught me that its usually in dives that you get the best food. Experience was right again Friday night in Clewiston.
I asked the waitress what she would recommend and without hesitation she said to go for the cerdo asado. I took her recommendation and in the end had one of the best meals I've ever eaten anywhere. It ranked right up there with lamb tajine in Ourzazate Morocco, and Phad Thai from a street vendor in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was that freaking good.
The meal, pictured above, consisted of a "salad" (lettuce and a hunk of tomato) and pork on one plate. Then came the mound of arroz amarillo (yellow rice), frijoles negras (black beans) and murdos (fried plantain). Not to be forgotten was the third plate that contained excellent, hot, and fresh Cuban bread. It was as good or better as any I have eaten in Havana or anywhere else I've traveled in Cuba.
The beer selection here was abysmal - Budweiser (which I don't consider to be beer!) and Corona. I went for the Corona and then went for a second one. The dinner was $5.99 (yes, you read that correctly, five dollars 99 cents!) and with two beers the total bill was $9.40. For all that food and it was excellent - simply excellent. Had I been in a Cuban restaurant in Washington DC that same meal would have easily cost $45.00.
When I walked into the Cafe Tropical I quickly saw that the place was packed with patrons - and I was the only Anglo present. This is always a good indication that the food is great and I was not let down. The waitress doted over me the entire time I was there, in part, I think because I was an Anglo who openly (and correctly!) spoke Spanish to her. I think it surprised her actually.
At the end of this meal I tipped the waitress $5.60 and walked out the door having experienced what certainly ranks up there as one of the finest meals I've ever had. Just like the Phad Thai I had on the street in Chiang Mai that cost me the US equivalent of 50 CENTS!! the price of a meal is no indication of how good it will be. Cafe Tropical proved me correct on that observation once again.
There are few reasons to be in Clewiston other than maybe passing through on US Highway 27 on your way to or from Miami. However if you ever find yourself there, you have no excuse whatsoever for not stopping by Julio's Cafe Tropical for the best meal you'll have in a very long time.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
One of the nicer advantages of living in the South (other than bearable winter temperatures) is the yearly late spring / early summer eruption of flowers of the Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) tree. You can learn much more about the ecology of this magnificent tree at this site.
I noticed the first flowering Magnolia tree yesterday and this morning there must be about 30 of them in bloom along the same route I followed yesterday. They will stay in bloom for about a month of so and then go into senescence by mid-June. That brings on the annual eleven month wait until they return.
There is no need to look at the calendar to know that summer has arrived this year. Granted the hot temperatures of the last couple of days are a good indicator but to me nothing is more summer-like in the south than an eye full of Magnolia blossoms everywhere you look.
I prepared the following list of Minor League baseball teams primarily for my own use in tracking down teams to watch as I travel around the county. Feel free to download it and use it....but if you do so and try to make some money off it at least acknowledge who wrote it originally. I would appreciate it.
A Traveler’s Checklist of Minor League Baseball Teams
In the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela
This checklist was prepared to provide traveling baseball fans with information on the location of Minor League baseball teams in 49 of the 50 states plus Canada, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela. The list was prepared to give information by State/Province/Country. No attempt was made to include Major League baseball teams because almost everyone who knows about baseball knows where the thirty teams call home.
The checklist is broken up by State/County and then alphabetized inside each state/country. You can determine which major league team is associated with which each minor league team by clicking on the team name and reading team information on their websites. Also included are teams from the various independent leagues that are not associated with a Major League team. These are professional teams but are not in any Major League farm system.
Following each team name there is a designation in parentheses ( ) that indicates which minor league level an individual team belongs. Most people are familiar with Triple A (AAA) Double A (AA) and Single A advanced. This list includes all minor league teams through and including the Rookie Leagues (sometimes called Instructional Leagues) and the unaffiliated leagues.
Any errors or omissions in the list are entirely mine. Please use this list as you travel around the country. The major source for this information for teams by state or province/country was is at this link. An ancillary source of information was included in this site that provides a list of teams by their Major League affiliate can be found here.
Abbreviations used in the text include:
AAA - Triple A
AA - Double A
High A - Advanced A Level
Low A - Lower A Level
Adv Rookie - Advanced Rookie League
Rookie - Instructional League in Minor League Baseball
Short A - Short Season High A level Minor League Baseball
American Assn – American Association, Nonaffiliated Minor League
Arizona Fall League - Affiliated with Minor League Baseball
Arizona Winter League - Nonaffiliated Minor League Baseball
Atlantic League – Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Can-Am - Canadian American Association
Continental League – Continental Baseball League
DSL - Dominican Summer League (Affiliated with Rookie Leagues)
Frontier League – Nonaffiliated Minor League Baseball
Golden League – Golden Baseball League, Nonaffiliated Minor League Baseball
Mexican League – Mexican League of Minor League Baseball (AAA Level)
Northern League – Nonaffiliated Minor League Baseball
United League - United Baseball League, Nonaffiliated Minor League Baseball
VSL - Venezuelan Summer League, Rookie League Baseball
The distribution of teams by state, province or country follows:
Alabama (4 Teams)
Birmingham Barons (AA)
Huntsville Stars (AA)
Mobile Bay Bears (AA)
Montgomery Biscuits (AA)
Arizona (22 Teams)
Glendale Dodgers (Rookie)
Goodyear Indians (Rookie)
Mesa Angels (Rookie)
Mesa Cubs (Rookie)
Mesa Solar Sox (Arizona Fall League)
Peoria Javelinas (Arizona Fall League)
Peoria Mariners (Rookie)
Peoria Padres (Rookie)
Peoria Saguaros (Arizona Fall League)
Phoenix Athletics (Rookie)
Phoenix Brewers (Rookie)
Phoenix Desert Dogs (Arizona Fall League)
San Luis Atleticos (Arizona Winter League)
Scottsdale Giants (Rookie)
Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
Surprise Rafters (Arizona Fall League)
Surprise Rangers (Rookie)
Tucson Toros (Golden League)
Yuma (San Diego) Surf Dawgs (Arizona Winter League)
Yuma (Saskatchewan) Silver Sox (Arizona Winter League)
Yuma Scorpions (Golden League)
Yuma Western Canada Miners (Arizona Winter League)
Arkansas (2 Teams)
Little Rock Travelers (AA)
Springdale (Northwest Arkansas) Naturals (AA)
California (16 Teams)
Adelanto Mavericks (High A)
Bakersfield Blaze (High A)
Blythe Heat (Arizona Winter League)
Chico Outlaws (Golden League)
Fresno Grizzlies (AAA)
Fullerton (Orange County) Flyers (Golden League)
Lake Elsinore Storm (High A)
Lancaster Jet Hawks (High A)
Modesto Nuts (High A)
Palm Springs Power (Arizona Winter League)
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High A)
Sacramento River Cats (AAA)
San Bernardino 66ers (High A)
San Jose Giants (High A)
Stockton Ports (High A)
Visalia Rawhide (High A)
Colorado (1 Team)
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA)
Connecticut (3 Teams)
Bridgeport Bluefish (Atlantic League)
New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
Norwich (Connecticut) Tigers (Short A)
Delaware (1 Team)
Wilmington Blue Rocks (High A)
Florida (28 Teams)
Bradenton Marauders (High A)
Bradenton Pirates (Rookie)
Brevard County Manatees (High A)
Brevard County Nationals (Rookie)
Charlotte Stone Crabs (High A)
Charlotte Rays (Rookie)
Clearwater Threshers (High A)
Clearwater Phillies (Rookie)
Daytona Cubs (High A)
Dunedin Blue Jays (High A)
Fort Myers Miracle (High A)
Fort Myers Red Sox (Rookie)
Fort Myers Twins (Rookie)
Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Jupiter Hammerheads (High A)
Jupiter Cardinals (Rookie)
Jupiter Marlins (Rookie)
Kissimmee Astros (Rookie)
Lake Buena Vista Braves (Rookie)
Lakeland Flying Tigers (High A)
Lakeland Tigers (Rookie)
Palm Beach Cardinals (High A)
Pensacola Pelicans (American Association)
St. Lucie Mets (High A)
St. Lucie Mets (Rookie)
Sarasota Orioles (Rookie)
Tampa Yankees (High A)
Tampa Yankees (Rookie)
Georgia (4 Teams)
Augusta Green Jackets (Low A)
Gwinnett Braves (AAA)
Rome Braves (Low A)
Savannah Sand Gnats (Low A)
Hawaii (1 Team)
Wailuku (Maui) Na Koa Ikaika Maui (Golden League)
Idaho (2 Teams)
Boise Hawks (Short A)
Idaho Falls Chukars (Adv Rookie) Kansas City Royals
Illinois (12 Teams)
Crestwood (Windy City) Thunderbolts (Frontier League)
Joliet Jack Hammers (Northern League)
Kane County Cougars (Low A)
Marion (Southern Illinois) Miners (Frontier League)
Normal Corn Belters (Frontier League)
Peoria Chiefs (Low A)
Rockford River Hawks (Northern League)
Sauget (Gateway) Grizzlies (Frontier League)
Schaumburg Flyers (Northern League)
Woodstock (McHenry County) K-Nines (Frontier League)
Zion (Lake County) Fielders (Northern League)
Indiana (5 Teams)
Evansville Otters (Frontier League)
Fort Wayne Tin Caps (Low A
Gary (South Shore) Rail Cats (Northern League)
Indianapolis Indians (AAA)
South Bend Silver Hawks (Low A)
Iowa (6 Teams)
Burlington Bees (Low A)
Cedar Rapids Kernels (Low A)
Clinton Lumber Kings (Low A)
Des Moines Iowa Cubs (AAA)
Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A)
Sioux City Explorers (American Association)
Kansas (2 Teams)
Kansas City T-Bones (Northern League)
Wichita Wingnuts (American Association)
Kentucky (4 Teams)
Bowling Green Hot Rods (Low A)
Florence Freedom (Frontier League)
Lexington Legends (Low A)
Louisville Bats (AAA)
Louisiana (2 Teams)
New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA)
Shreveport Captains (American Association)
Maine (1 Team)
Portland Sea Dogs (AA)
Maryland (6 Teams)
Aberdeen Ironbirds (Short A)
Bowie Baysox (AA)
Frederick Keys (High A)
Hagerstown Suns (Low A)
Salisbury (Delmarva) Shorebirds (Low A)
Waldorf (Southern Maryland) Blue Crabs (American Association)
Massachusetts (4 Teams)
Brockton Rox (Can Am)
Pittsfield Colonials (Can Am)
Lowell Spinners (Short A)
Worcester Tornadoes (Can Am)
Michigan (6 Teams)
Comstock Park Whitecaps (Low A)
Kalamazoo Kings (Frontier League)
Lansing Lugnuts (Low A)
Midland (Great Lakes) Loons (Low A)
Waterford (Oakland County) Cruisers (Frontier League)
Traverse City Beach Bums (Frontier League)
Minnesota (1 Team)
St. Paul Saints (American Assn)
Mississippi (1 Team)
Pearl Braves (AA)
Missouri (2 Teams)
O’Fallon River City Rascals (Frontier League)
Springfield Cardinals (AA)
Montana (4 Teams)
Billings Mustangs (Adv Rookie)
Great Falls Voyageurs (Adv Rookie)
Helena Brewers (Adv Rookie)
Missoula Osprey (Adv Rookie)
Nebraska (2 Teams)
Lincoln Salt Dogs (American Assn)
Omaha Royals (AAA)
Nevada (2 Teams)
Las Vegas 51s (AAA)
Reno Aces (AAA)
New Jersey (7 Teams)
Camden River Sharks (Atlantic League)
Bridgewater (Somerset County) Patriots (Atlantic League)
Lakewood Blue Claws (Low A)
Little Falls N.J. Jackals (Atlantic League)
Newark Bears (Atlantic League)
Sussex Skyhawks (Can Am)
Trenton Thunder (AA)
New Mexico (2 Teams)
Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
Las Cruces Vaqueros (Continental League)
New York (12 Teams)
Auburn Doubledays (Short A)
Batavia Muckdogs (Short A)
Binghamton Mets (AA)
Brooklyn Cyclones (Short A)
Buffalo Bisons (AAA)
Central Islip - Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League)
Jamestown Jammers (Short A)
Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Staten Island Yankees (Short A)
Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
Troy (Tri-City) Valley Cats (Short A)
Wappingers Falls (Hudson Valley) Renegades (Short A)
North Carolina (9 Teams)
Asheville Tourists (Low A)
Burlington Royals (Adv Rookie)
Durham Bulls (AAA)
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Low A)
Hickory Crawdads (Low A)
Kannapolis Intimidators (Low A)
Kinston Indians (High A)
Winston-Salem Dash (High A)
Zebulon (Carolina) Mudcats (AA)
North Dakota (1 Team)
Fargo - Moorhead Red Hawks (Northern League)
Ohio (7 Teams)
Akron Aeros (AA)
Avon – Lake Erie Crushers (Frontier League)
Columbus Clippers (AAA)
Dayton Dragons (Low A)
Lake County Captains (Low A)
Niles (Mahoning Valley) Scrappers (Short A)
Toledo Mud Hens (AAA)
Oklahoma (2 Teams)
Oklahoma City Red Hawks (AAA)
Tulsa Drillers (AA)
Oregon (3 Teams)
Eugene Emeralds (Short A)
Portland Beavers (AAA)
Salem Volcanoes (Short A)
Pennsylvania (11 Teams)
Allentown (Lehigh Valley) Iron Pigs (AAA)
Altoona Curve (AA)
Erie Sea Wolves (AA)
Harrisburg Senators (AA)
Lancaster Barnstormers (Atlantic League)
Reading Phillies (AA)
Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (AAA)
State College Spikes (Low A)
Washington Wild Things (Frontier League)
Williamsport Crosscutters (Low A)
York Revolution (Atlantic League)
Rhode Island (1 Team)
Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA)
South Carolina (4 Teams)
Charleston River Dogs (Low A)
Fort Mill (Charlotte) Knights (AAA)
Greenville Drive (Low A)
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High A)
South Dakota (1 Team)
Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants (American Assn)
Tennessee (9 Teams)
Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Elizabethton Twins (Adv. Rookie)
Greeneville Astros (Adv Rookie)
Jackson (West Tennessee) Diamond Jaxx (AA)
Johnson City Cardinals (Adv Rookie)
Kingsport Mets (Adv Rookie)
Kodak (Tennessee) Smokies (AA)
Memphis Redbirds (AAA)
Nashville Sounds (AAA)
Texas (17 Teams)
Alpine (Big Bend) Cowboys (Continental League)
Amarillo Dillas (United League)
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA)
Edinburg Roadrunners (United League)
El Paso Diablos (American Assn)
El Paso (West Texas) Road Hogs (Continental League)
Fort Worth Cats (American Assn)
Frisco Rough Riders (AA)
Grand Prairie Air Hogs (American Assn)
Harlingen (Rio Grande Valley) White Wings (United League)
Laredo Broncos (United League)
Midland Rock Hounds (AA)
Robstown (Coastal Bend) Thunder (United League)
Round Rock Express (AAA)
San Angelo Colts (United League)
San Antonio Missions (AA)
Van Horn (Desert Valley) Mountain Lions (Continental League)
Utah (4 Teams)
Ogden Raptors (Adv Rookie)
Orem Owlz (Adv Rookie)
St. George Roadrunners (Golden League)
Salt Lake City Bees (AAA)
Vermont (1 Team)
Burlington (Lake) Monsters (Low A)
Virginia (8 Teams)
Bristol White Sox (Adv Rookie)
Danville Braves (Adv Rookie)
Lynchburg Hillcats (High A)
Norfolk Tides (AAA)
Pulaski Mariners (Adv Rookie)
Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA)
Salem Red Sox (AA)
Woodbridge (Potomac) Nationals (AA)
Washington (5 Teams)
Everett AquaSox (Low A)
Pasco (Tri-City) Dust Devils (Low A)
Spokane Indians (Low A)
Tacoma Rainiers (AAA)
Yakima Bears (Low A)
West Virginia (3 Teams)
Bluefield Orioles (Adv Rookie)
Charleston (West Virginia) Power (Low A)
Princeton Rays (Adv Rookie)
Wisconsin (2 Teams)
Beloit Snappers (Low A)
Grand Chute (Wisconsin) Timber Rattlers (Low A)
Wyoming (1 Team)
Casper Ghosts (Adv Rookie)
CANADA (6 Teams)
Calgary Vipers (Golden League)
Edmonton Capitals (Golden League)
Vancouver Canadians (Low A)
Victoria Seals (Golden League)
Winnipeg Gold Eyes (Northern League)
Quebec City Capitales (Can Am)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (25 Teams)
Note: Not much specific information is available online regarding the Dominican Summer League. Instead of information about each team (and I'm still not sure where all of them play in the DR) I would direct interested people to the website for the Dominican Summer League here. Maybe you'll have more success than I did trying to figure it out.
Boca Chica Baseball City Division
DSL Cubs Chicago Cubs
DSL Diamondbacks Arizona Diamondbacks
DSL Orioles Baltimore Orioles
DSL Padres San Diego Padres
DSL Reds Cincinnati Reds
DSL Rockies Colorado Rockies
DSL Twins Minnesota Twins
DSL White Sox Chicago White Sox
Boca Chica North Division
DSL Astros Houston Astros
DSL Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
DSL Indians Cleveland Indians
DSL Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates
DSL Rays Tampa Bay Rays
DSL Red Sox Boston Red Sox
DSL Royals Kansas City Royals
DSL Yankees New York Yankees
San Pedro de Macoris Division
DSL Angels Los Angeles Angels
DSL Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays
DSL Braves Atlanta Braves
DSL Rangers Texas Rangers
DSL Tigers Detroit Tigers
Santo Domingo North Division
DSL Athletics Oakland Athletics
DSL Brewers Milwaukee Brewers
DSL Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
DSL Mariners Seattle Mariners
MEXICO (17 Teams)
Campeche Pirates (AAA) Mexican League
Cancun (Quintana Roo) Tigers (AAA) Mexican League
Chihuahua Dorados (AAA) Mexican League
Merida Leones (AAA) Mexican League
Mexico City Diablos (AAA) Mexican League
Minatitlan Petroleros (AAA) Mexican League
Monclova Acereros (AAA) Mexican League
Monterrey Sultanes (AAA) Mexican League
Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes (AAA) Mexican League
Oaxaca Guerreros (AAA) Mexican League
Puebla Pericos (AAA) Mexican League
Reynosa Broncos (AAA) Mexican League
Saltillo Saraperos (AAA) Mexican League
Tijuana Cimarrones (Golden League)
Torreon Vaqueros Laguna (AAA) Mexican League
Veracruz Rojas del Aquila (AAA) Mexican League
Villahermosa Olmecas de Tabasco (AAA) Mexican League
Note: None of the Venezuelan Summer League teams have a webiste. Click on the link below for the Venezuelan Summer League to obtain what limited information there is available.
Venezuelan Summer League (7 Teams)
Aguirre VSL Mariners (Rookie) Seattle Mariners
Bejuma VSL Cardinals (Rookie) St. Louis Cardinals
Ciudad Alianza VSL Tigers (Rookie) Detroit Tigers
San Joaquin VSL Pirates (Rookie) Pittsburgh Pirates
Tronconero A VSL Phillies (Rookie) Philadelphia Phillies
Tronconero B VSL Reds (Rookie) Cincinnati Reds
Venoco VSL Rays (Rookie) Tampa Bay Rays
Monday, May 3, 2010
Forty years ago tomorrow, May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard committed murder on the campus of Kent State University.
It was the single most important formative event in my young life and one that changed my personal and political views forever.
I was a freshman on the University of Wisconsin at River Falls campus that day. I remember it like it was yesterday. One of the first warm days of spring that year and not a cloud in the sky. I was back in my dorm room, 209 Johnson Hall, studying when someone on the floor yelled "They're killing students in Ohio!" I thought at first it was just a normal afternoon drunken outburst on the floor. Then someone walked in with his transistor radio set on WCCO radio from Minneapolis. They gave complete coverage of the carnage, at least as much as they knew at the time. As we all sat around listening to the news a feeling of gloom set over us.
Granted, UW River Falls wasn't a hotbed of political activity in those days but we had experienced our share of campus protesting of the intractable unwinnable, unnecessary war in Viet Nam. Now Richard Nixon had expanded the war into Cambodia and our few campus activists were more agitated. I wondered as did most of the guys on my floor, if the Wisconsin National Guard was going to show up and start shooting us.
Kent State happened because of the over reaction of the Ohio National Guard in response to legally assembled (according to the United States Constitution) students exercised their legal right (according to the United States Constitution) to protest an illegal war (the President never asked Congress for a formal declaration of war therefore it wasn't a legal war) and its expansion. I will never forgive the Ohio National Guard for what they did that day forty years ago.
When it finally sank into my thick skull that students were being killed for exercising their rights, and the government that sanctioned this killing was a Republican government, I rejected all of the conservative mantra that my ultra conservative mother ever spewed (were she alive at 80 years old today my ultra conservative mother would be one of the Tea Bag anarchists who think Sarah Palin has an IQ greater than a cucumber and that Faux "News" is fair and balanced). The next day May 5, 1970, I started to let my hair grow longer, I participated in my first anti-war sit in. My politics and my outlook were radicalized.
Just two days before the massacre, Richard M. Nixon, made the following statement regarding the campus unrest. Never once in his statement did Nixon acknowledge that it was HIS actions that were causing the unrest.
You know, you see these bums, you know, blowin' up the campuses. Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world, going to the greatest universities, and here they are, burnin' up the books, I mean, stormin' around about this issue, I mean, you name it - get rid of the war, there'll be another one. -- Richard Nixon, New York Times, May 2, 1970
Fuck you Richard Nixon. It is my sincerest hope to one day piss on your grave.
Despite the tragedy that day there were some positive things that came out of it. Most importantly for me is the very real fact that my political beliefs were forever altered on that fateful day. In response I have voted in every election since my first election in 1972 (the first vote I ever cast was for George McGovern and I feel proud of that vote). In that election I voted a straight Democratic ticket. I have never missed an election since that day in November 1972 and I have never once voted for anyone who was not with the Democratic Party.
I would eat a steady diet of used kitty litter before I would vote for a Republican. Ever.
Another positive thing that came out of the murders was this song with its haunting music and haunting lyrics written by Neil Young.
On May 4 1990 while living in Grand Island Nebraska I contacted every radio station in town and in the surrounding area and asked them to play, at 11:27 a.m. Central Time that morning (the exact minute the murders took place at Kent State 20 years earlier) "Ohio" by Neil Young as a memorial to the fallen students. All the stations agreed to do it but one where I was told by the programming director "We don't have the music or I would play it." I asked if they'd play it if I brought the music to them. They would.
I was standing outside the music store in Conestoga Mall at 10:00 a.m. when the door opened. I darted in and purchased the vinyl album and raced down to the south side of town to the radio station. I arrived there by 10:30 with 57 minutes to spare. Breathlessly I told the woman behind the counter that her station was going to be playing this song as a memorial to the murders 20 years earlier. She looked at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look on her face not understanding a thing I'd said. Finally I asked her age. "I'm 19" she said. She wasn't even born when the single greatest formative moment in my life occurred. I would be afraid to ask the question again today.
Finally the murders at Kent State were the catalyst in 1988 for the University to establish the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence. The mission statement for the Institute reads:
The Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence:
* promotes interdisciplinary research on the causes and prevention of violence
* engages in the design, implementation and evaluation of community-based programs for violence prevention
* trains teachers, law enforcement personnel and other professionals on principles and practices related to violence prevention
* helps bridge the gap between science and practice to effectively inform public policy related to violence prevention
Some good has come out of the insanity of that day after all.
In 2005 I traveled from Washington DC to Kent State to be there for the 35th anniversary of the murders. Stepping from my car in a University parking lot I asked a couple I saw walking "where's the Hill?" Without batting an eye they pointed to the west. As I walked toward the hallowed grounds that are the site of the murders several students came up to me and asked "were you there?" I told them I was there in spirit alone that day.
On getting near the Hill I found four curious areas cordoned off with light fixtures. Asking what they were I learned that they were permanent memorials that marked the outline of where each of the four kids died that day. The first one I found was Alison Krause.
Standing on the Hill overlooking the scene I met a mother and her college freshman son. The son was showing mom the campus and brought her to the Hill. I saw them and made a comment about the tragic deaths that day. The mom, about my age, snapped back in reply saying "Those fucking kids DESERVED what they got that day."
Shocked I said "you mean Jeffrey Miller deserved to die for protesting something that was wrong?" Mom said "You're god-damned right he did. All of them did."
Her son then jumped on her case and backed up what I was saying. They walked away yelling at each other. I guess, at least 5 years ago, there was still a lot of angst and anger on the Hill.
And a note for any Vietnam Veterans reading this post - know up front that our protests were designed to get you home and we didn't even know you at the time. We were mobilized against the war, not against you.
Tomorrow morning, May 4, 2010, the Kent State University Historic Site will be dedicated on the campus as a memorial to the tragedy of that day. Just like 40 years ago I will not be there physically, but I will attend in spirit.
Never EVER forget Kent State.