Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who Will Be The Next Manager of the Miami Marlins?

Fans of the Miami Marlins entered the 2015 season with high hopes for the team.  Several huge contracts had been signed over the winter ensuring that super human outfielder Giancarlo Stanton would be around for many years and that the team could be built around him.  Concurrently outfielder Christian Yelich was also signed to a long-term contract ensuring that he would be there with Stanton to form the nucleus of the team. 

Several trades were made to bring in "support" staff to build behind Stanton and Yelich.  Dee Gordon who runs so fast I swear he's part antelope was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Martin Prado, an excellent third baseman was acquired from the San Francisco Giants and mega-hitter Ichiro Suzuki was acquired from the Seattle Mariners. Everything was in place and secured for a record-breaking season for the Marlins.

And then the season started.

Languishing near the bottom of the standings in the National League East Division, the Marlins were soon a laughing stock and everyone was scratching their heads wondering what happened to all this expensive talent that was supposed to be the salvation of the Miami Marlins.

All of that talent was acquired by the General Manager Dan Jennings and approved by Owner Jeffrey Loria.  Despite that fact when the Marlins couldn't get their season in order, Loria fired the Manager Mike Redmond and made him the scapegoat for the managerial miscues foisted on the team by him and his general manager.

"A new direction" and "a new vision" were the two buzz phrases uttered the day following Redmond's unceremonious firing as the Marlins introduced the next manager in the team's history - none other than General Manager Dan Jennings - the same culprit who formed that team that couldn't win for which Redmond was made the scapegoat.

Jennings' managerial experience consisted of managing high school baseball more than 30 years ago but according to Jeffrey Loria, the art-collector owner of the Marlins he was "the person" for the job.

Since taking the helm of the Marlins their record under Jennings is 0-3 and the team is slipping further into irrelevance as the "new direction" seems to be straight for the cesspool.

No doubt Jennings will be made the next scapegoat of the Marlins and I want to be in line for the position.  So this morning I wrote to Jeffrey Loria and applied for the job of manager.  My experience is actually greater than Jennings (and it spans a longer time frame) having coached 4-H league softball in the early 1970s and later adult-league softball in the late 1980s.  I certainly can't be any worse than Jennings, plus I will work for much less than he is being paid.

A copy of my letter and the resume I attached to it follow.  We'll see where this leads.  Should I be accepted for the position I will ensure that all of my friends receive tickets to whatever games you want to see.  Likely you'll be the only people in the stands by then anyway.

May 21 2015

Mr Jeffrey Loria, Owner
The Miami Marlins
501 Marlins Way
Miami, Florida  33125

Re:  Marlins Managerial Position

Dear Jeff,

After Sunday’s unceremonious firing of Marlins Manager Mike Redmond, it was stated in various media outlets that the Marlins were looking for “new direction” and a “new vision” for the team.  To accomplish that goal you hired (actually demoted) General Manager Dan Jennings to the position of team manager.  Subsequent media reports stated that Jennings was “just the man” for the position.  Curiously when you hired former manager Mike Redmond in 2012 you said the exact same words about him.

As we have seen over the last three games, any “new vision” that Jennings has brought to the team is extremely blurred and a visit to the optometrist is probably in order very soon.  Three straight losses over three nights are more of blindness than a vision.  Accordingly I predict that in the next couple of months you will once again seek a new vision and a new direction for the team and fire Jennings.  When that happens, I want the job.

Unlike Jennings whose entire managerial experience consisted of high school baseball 30 years ago, my managerial experience actually consists of two levels of ball. First I coached a 4-H league softball team in 1970 to a record of 28-1.  This was in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.  Later, in the late 1980s, at about the time Dan Jennings was gaining his managerial experience at the high school level, I managed an adult league softball team in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Although our record was 14-11 it was still better than what Dan and his new vision and direction are bringing to the Fish.

Therefore I am applying in advance for the position of manager of the Marlins.  I bring to the position 31 years of experience as a wildlife biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Despite that having nothing to do with managing baseball, it’s actually more time in one position than Jennings has had over the last 31 years.

To aid you in your decision-making I have attached a 2-page resume outlining all of my relevant experience.  As far as salary is concerned I am quite open but believe, given my level of experience (greater than the current manager) that $500,000 a year would be adequate.  If you find my experience to be of greater value we can discuss an increase.  I’d prefer this be in a five-year contract so that after you fire me I can still live well for a few years afterward as your last three casualties at the manager position are now doing.

Thank you very much for considering my application.  My email and phone numbers are on my resume.  I look forward to taking the reins of the Fish soon so I can apply my vision to furthering the downfall and irrelevance of the Marlins under your ownership.


Craig Faanes
Wildlife Biologist


Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Arlington, Virginia        Sept 1994 – March 1 2008  
·         Managed the mapping program of the National Wetlands Inventory (
·      Provided technical support, science advising and analytical expertise in biological sciences (particularly wetlands and ornithology) to other natural resource programs of the Fish and Wildlife Service, other Federal agencies and the states.
·      Managed expenditures for the $4.7 million national appropriated budget and obtained agreements with numerous Federal state and private resources for additional funding.
·      Authored the 5-year strategy document guiding the program’s new focus and direction.
·      Provided program oversight and management of the National Wetlands Status and Trends study and resulting report to the President and the Congress.

Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Ventura,, California           Feb. 1993 – Sept.1994
·      Managed the activities of a diverse and controversial Ecological Services Field Office including supervision of a staff of 30 and budget management. The office was responsible for protection and management of 118 endangered and threatened species of plants and animals including Sea Otter, California Condor, Desert Tortoise, Red-legged Frog and many others,  in a 10-county area of southern California
·      Oversaw habitat conservation work including reviews of wetland development permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, NEPA reviews, and initiation of a Coastal Resources program. 
·      Developed and implemented the first Environmental Contaminants program in the Field Office.

Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Grand Island, Nebraska              Jan. 1987 – Feb.1993
·      Participated in the Platte River Management Joint Study involving Endangered Species Program issues in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming related to the Platte River ecosystem.
·      Developed mathematical models applied to Whooping Crane, Piping Plover, Least Tern and forage fish habitats
·      Designed and conducted studies of Whooping Crane and Sandhill Crane habitat use of the Platte River system.
·      Worked with regional and state media in distribution of information on Platte River issues including development of a statewide endangered species public education program.

Research Wildlife Biologist – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Athens, Georgia       April 1984 – Jan 1987
  • Principal investigator for recovery research on the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler in Michigan and in winter in the West Indies

Research Wildlife Biologist – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Jamestown, North Dakota  Jan 1979 – April 1984
  • Principal ornithologist at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
  • Designed and conducted research to elucidate factors affecting populations of song birds and other non-hunted species in the Northern Great Plains of the United States

Wildlife Biologist – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Minneapolis, Minnesota     August 1977 – Jan 1979
  • Conducted biological assessments of lands nominated to the Fish and Wildlife Service for acquisition and inclusion into the National Wildlife Refuge system in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Education and Training

Masters Degree – Biology (Wildlife Biology Concentration) University of Wisconsin – River Falls   
Bachelors Degree –  Earth Science and Biology.  University of Wisconsin at River Falls. 

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Upper Level Management Development Program

Law Enforcement – Eau Claire, WI (provided certification to exercise game warden arrest authority in Wisconsin)

Publications and Presentations

·     Published more than 60 peer-reviewed applied science and research papers and journal articles, books, book chapters and book reviews on conservation topics (primarily neotropical migrant birds and endangered species)
·      Published my first non-science book “Somewhere South of Miami” in 2002  “Continental Drifting,” “Minor League Heckler,”  and “Sojourn to South Africa” were published as books in 2013 and “Slices of America’s Pie” in 2014.
·      Prepared research and technical reports, non-refereed articles, Congressional testimony,  case affidavits, and other public documents
·      Delivered approximately 460 public speaking and workshop presentations

Teaching Opportunities

· - Taipei American School – Taiwan – Primary presenter at a week-long environmental education program in 1991
·      Norfolk, Virginia – Caribbean College Students Program (Presidential Training Initiative for the Island Caribbean, 3-day training) – Guest lecturer
·     1988-1991 – Central Community College, Grand Island, NE – Instructor for Beginning Bird Watching
·     Other teaching opportunities –
-          Public Outreach and Environmental Education – Fish & Wildlife Service’s Ecological Services Basic Training – Seattle   Washington
                -      Educational seminar organizer – for Nebraska & Kansas oil production companies –
                      Subject:  Ways to reduce bird mortality at oil storage areas
-          Educational seminar organizer & presenter – for Nebraska Public Power Districts –
Subject:  Ways to reduce bird mortality with power lines
-          Developer and organizer – for local Chamber of Commerce – Subject: “Wings Over the Platte.”,  a public education program about the Platte River Ecosystem

Honors and Activities

·         “Environmental Excellence Award”, Department of the Interior  (group quality award)   
                 Report to Congress on the Status and Trends of the Nation’s wetlands.
·         “Thousand Points of Light”,  President Bush’s award from the Secretary of the Interior  
·         “Outstanding Contribution Award”, Director’s award from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  
                Project to establish the Wings Over the Platte educational celebration in Grand Island Nebraska
·         Earth Day – Dan Rather’s CBS Evening News – segment on my environmental education activities 
·         Manuscript reviewer for:  The Auk, Birds of North America, Birding, Blue Jay (Saskatchewan Natural History Society) Canadian Field Naturalist, The Condor, Ecology, Journal of Field Ornithology, Florida Field-Naturalist, The Loon (Minnesota Ornithologists Union) Passenger Pigeon (Wisconsin Society for Ornithology) Prairie Naturalist (North Dakota Natural Science Society), Studies in Avian Biology, Western Birds, Journal of Wildlife Management, Wildlife Society Bulletin, Wilson Bulletin  
·         Hobbies: Birding, International travel (visited 114 countries), Civil War history, music, arts, theater

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Does Wisconsin Hate Minnesota?

If you grew up in the great Cheesehead state, you have likely had it ingrained in you that anything and everything from Minnesota (that usually nameless state to our west) is to be despised, denegrated, and taken out with the barn cleaning every morning.  After 63 years of life I still believe that to be a noble cause and one I will likely never put aside.

However what is the origin of this seething hatred?  This article posits that we dislike Minnesota because of an off-color comment made in a conversation between a Wisconsinite and someone from that state to our west but I just don't buy it. There is way too much animosity between us to have originated from a single flippant remark.  I can see that happening between two recently-divorced people but not between a state of great historical and natural resource prowess, and that lesser state to our west. There is something deeper and more sinister at work.

About a year ago I had a discussion with fellow native Badgers of my age group about where the loathing arose but nobody could say for certain.  One theory was that when the purple football team from that state to our west was formed they posed a "threat" to the sacred Green Bay Packers and from that the intense rivalry was born.  Again, I don't buy it.  

This morning I found the website for the Wisconsin Historical Society and as I perused its many treasures of Cheesehead history and wisdom, I looked for an answer to this issue but could not find one.  So as I have done from childhood when I can't figure something out I write letters and I penned the following to the masters of Wisconsin history themselves.  

Following is the letter I sent to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Perhaps someone there knows the answer.  I would certainly like to know the answer before I die but even if I find out I will still loathe that state and especially that bunch of clowns dressed up in purple every fall who try to pass themselves off as a football team :)

Wisconsin Historical Society
816 State Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53706


I am a native-born Badger who grew up in Barron County, received my BS and Master’s degrees from UW River Falls and who reluctantly, as a 27 year old, moved away from Wisconsin in 1979.  This afternoon when I found your Facebook page and eventually the Historical Society Press website (ordered two books) I spent a couple hours browsing the many offerings you have on the history of the great Cheesehead state.

As I looked through some of the topics, I remembered a historical “issue” to which none of my friends from that era have ever been able to find a satisfactory answer. Hence I am writing to you and asking if you could shed some light on it for me and for us.

From the time I could crawl it has been ingrained in me that if you are from Wisconsin you “hate” anything and everything to do with Minnesota.  Many states, like Michigan and Ohio, have a jovial rivalry, but the animosity that exists between Badgers and those people from the state to our west is much more palpable and much more passionate.  Where Ohio and Michigan can trace their rivalry to the Toledo War of 1835 when people from Ohio referred to Michiganders as “being slovenly like a wolverine,” there is no such incident in our history that rings a bell for why we despise Minnesota so thoroughly.  The story goes that during the 1969 legislative session a legislator from near La Crosse introduced a bill that would have imposed a $100.00 toll on any vehicle entering Wisconsin that carried a Minnesota license plate.  The intent was to keep them out of our borders.  Of course the bill didn’t pass out of committee (although it was a great idea) but that is indicative of the depth of our loathing.

A year or so ago some friends from childhood and I discussed the origins of this issue in Facebook and one of the possible answers was that when the Minnesota Vikings were established they were a “threat” to the Packers and consequently something to be vilified.  There is also the possibility that something happened in the long-standing rivalry between the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota football teams that may have set off this disgust we feel for Minnesota.  However I don’t buy either of those arguments because 1) I had a healthy dislike for Minnesota in the 1950s before the Vikings were formed and 2) the loathing extends far beyond professional or college football teams.   

I’ve searched many sources online and done a zillion Google searches on “Why does Wisconsin hate Minnesota” but so far nothing.  Flummoxed, I’m writing to you to ask if anyone in the Wisconsin Historical Society is familiar with the origins of our guttural dislike of anything and everything Minnesota. 

Thanks much for any insights you are able to provide.  I sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Baseball's Newest Position - the Designated Recipient

Champ Stuart of the St. Lucie Mets is my 2015 "Designated Recipient"

Every baseball season I seem to find a reason to pick out one player from one of the other Florida State League teams who, through his actions, has earned the right to extra special attention when his team plays the Bradenton Marauders.  For the last two years it was Jesus Montero from the Palm Beach Cardinals.  

The St. Lucie Mets have always held a special place in my heart ever since that Dominican kid in 2009 threw a bat at me after I assisted him with his third strike out by yelling in Spanish, "You have the penis of a small boy." There has been a hate-hate relationship with St. Lucie ever since that night and it continues to this day.

In 2010 it was the St. Lucie Mets who began heckling me causing then Marauder hitting coach Dave Howard to come over between innings and say "I've never seen anything like this - a team heckling a fan."  The Mets also heckled me, as a team, in 2013 and 2014.  It might be slightly more than coincidental that the stadium where the St. Lucie Mets play was the first stadium used by Florida State League teams from which I was forcibly removed by the authorities because of my heckling.

Last night, May 1, 2015 at the St. Lucie Mets vs Bradenton Marauders game (that the Marauders won 12-1) I was giving hitting advice to several batters and consulting with the home plate umpire on his calls when I noticed that Champ Stuart, a center fielder from Freeport in the Bahamas, led the team with 28 strikeouts.  That little nugget of information was all the incentive I needed to attempt to make Champ feel less than welcome in McKechnie Field.

Adding to Champ’s need for attention was the very real fact that the night before, also in Bradenton, he made an obscene gesture toward the entirety of the Bradenton Marauders.  Few other things can be done to ensure that an opposing player receives overt attention than using obscene gestures against my team.  

As the box score from last night shows, Champ now has 30 strikeouts for the year and I’m proud to admit that I at least contributed to distracting him and helped facilitate the two new ones.  After Champ struck out swinging for this 30th strike out of the year he apparently took umbrage with my suggestion that he should “Use a t-ball stand next time Champ.”  I thought I was offering a constructive suggestion to help his career.

Champ saw things differently and began glaring at me.  He continued to glare at me every step of the way back to the dugout.  We continued our glaring contest until Champ was at the top of the dugout steps when I blew him a kiss.   This seemed to upset him, and two innings later as he stood in the on-deck circle before his last at bat of the night, Champ stood very close to me swinging his bat with considerable speed and strength.  He hadn’t done that earlier in the night and in fact had warmed up far from me.  His action and those of two colleagues before him sent a more than subtle message that they were all wishing my head was in the way of their bat.

Before last night’s game I hadn’t really chosen a designated recipient for added attention during the 2015 season. In fact I was planning to wait until after the Palm Beach Cardinals came to town because I absolutely despise them and would have preferred to have a Cardinal be the one that received a huge ration of grief each time he comes to bat.

However Champ sealed his fate last night on several levels so for the 2015 season Champ Stuart will be my official designated recipient of mountains of invective each time the St. Lucie Mets come to town.  Like any other opposing player he could have avoided this attention by simply ignoring me but he chose differently. 

The minor leagues are for learning and for player development.  Maybe after the 2015 season Champ will learn that closing his ears and looking the other way is the best policy when he plays against Bradenton.