Monday, January 30, 2012

USA's Twight Zone is Key?????

I am convinced that Florida is America's Twilight Zone

For those of you too young to have watched the re-runs growing up, The Twilight Zone was an irresistible yet weird mixture of drama, psychological thriller, science-fiction , suspense, and/or horror. Florida is also an irresistible yet weird mixture of drama, psychological thriller, science-fiction , suspense, and/or horror as it is truly America's Twilight Zone

Every year the baseball season begins in Florida
 with spring training

and tourist travel their to go to party, vacation, enjoy the sun, and admire the eye candy

I've been going to Florida for years (known as "my cousin Richie from New York" , 
I met my wife (not raised in Florida) there,  I have family there

, I've owned and still own property there, hell when I was younger I wanted to move to Miami. Yet in all my experience something has been off, different, weird, and difficult to understand about the people who live in Florida. They are not like us, and by us I mean NY/NJ/Northeaster folk.

There are clear exceptions, but generally speaking I find Floridians as :
  1. Xenophobic - Outsiders are shunned. Strange considering Tourism carries the state
  2. Homogeneous - act the same, dress the same, looks the same, and all want to be the same. Same ... Same ... Same .. its Twilight Zone ish .. almost phony and creepy. Too Generic
  3. Rude - Combine points 1 and 2 above plus they are mostly distant
  4. Difficult to communicate with - You ask them if they watch TV - They say No. You Ask them if they watch/follow the news - They say No. You ask them if they follow politics - They So No. You ask them about the weather and they complain about 65 degrees. What the Fuck????
  5. Horrible Sports Town - No baseball love. None. Hope Miami Marlins do better, but its an uphill battle. Worse yet is their is No Loyalty when their teams are down. If you win, your in. If not, your done. See the Miami Dolphins
  6. No concept of the importance of Public Transportation - Horrible. If an Alien spaceship landed it would be looked on more favorable than buses and trains that ran on time. 
  7. Generally lack substance and are superficial. Its all about me.
It's like a twisted horror episode where you want to like everyone, but as you get to know them you notice something isn't quite right. Appearances are deceiving.

Don't get me wrong.  There are good people who live there, I love Florida. I love Miami, and I love my family and friend who live there, but I'm glad I don't live in America's Twilight Zone. Something is wrong there. Yet despite their obvious short comings, election after election its residents hold the key to many presidential candidates aspirations. Crazy. Tomorrow is the Republican Primary and a good win here would establish a front runner. Florida could change everything, the Horror ... my god ... only in the Twilight Zone

Friday, January 27, 2012

Permit Me to Introduce Myself

Today I attended a Public Hearing

at the very nice Chelsea Recreation Center regarding the following rule amendment that impacts us all

"For applications received during the relevant application period, the Parks Department will first consider Youth Recreation (under 18) permit requests before any Adult Recreation permit requests. Adult applications will be considered after"

The City requires public hearings to institute new policy, but the truth is that it has been voted upon and already decided beforehand.  They were pretty much just collecting comments and opinions.That's why many interested parties were well represented and on hand

to express their thoughts on this issue and the importance of the Power of the Permit.

Youth Advocates stated their case

Now that their permit monopoly is threatened other tried to "work something out"

Now - Boooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if work something out means join my league, just wondering.

Admirably, Adult Softball Advocates AKA "Fievrues" stood up and gave more genuine appeals

for the love of the game and the city we live in.

While I am glad the permit process is under going long overdue changes by not just "grandfathering" request, there is a clear and present danger in a general broad Youth Leagues come first policy. What if a newly formed youth league forces a good loyal law abiding tax paying permit holder to lose their privileges?  Is that fair? Of course not. No one wants to lose their permit. What it means for the future - who knows? 

I have dealt with the Park's Department for 13 years and they have improved, but they still need help with this and the following issues:
  1. Permit Costs have increased 50%, but they have very little weekend staff due to budget cuts. This is a contradiction. Very frustrating. Poor perception
  2. Lack of Staff - makes it difficult to check on field use and provide proper maintenance.
  3. Youth Leagues needs should be more closely examined as this could be a seasonal or time related issue. Weekends are a challenge.
  4. Other Policy Issues that should change "Maximum time that any adult single-permit holder/league may control a field is set at 32 hours a week,  per park." There is no limit or extra cost for holding a certain number of permits. This has created monopolies who hoard the fields, provide a lousy product,  and over charge NYC residents/companies for very right to play on the  fields they pay taxes on. This makes no sense. Institute a permit cap number.
  5. Another Questionable Policy - "The Park's Department reserves the right to require clean-up bond and/or liability insurance for the use of the field." Some leagues can't afford this.
This is a wonderful city it would be a shame if we were not Permitted to play anymore.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Developing Market

People often ask me what I do for a living? Some think I make ends meat as a sports writing Renegade
trying to penetrate social media culture with a twist of my A96 point of view. Others think I create websites for a living ,while another theory has me working different jobs depending on the season -  umpire, treasurer, and commisiooner from Spring thru Fall
or minimum wage earning snow shoveling fool

in the Winter

Well the truth is right now I ain't doing a damn thing because I am unemployed, but "Once Upon a Time" I had a career. I was a bond analyst. Mortgage-Backed Securities bond analyst to be exact, yeah I am one of the motherfuckers that ruined the country.

Lately I've been trying to get back into the bond game but can't crack the lineup - no worries - I will. But on my journey toward reestablishing myself I can't help but notice the similarities between U.S. bond market and baseball/softball. Huh? Did I just write that ? And yes while I am drinking while writing this, the parallels between the two are sobering. I don't even need to add Barry Bonds 

to this conversation to connect the lines. I know that on the surface they seem very different, but if you look deeper and understand/appreciate the rules and strategies, there are many common elements between the bond market and playing ball.

Top Ten Bond Market and Softball Similarities 
10. Bullies and Thugs in Both -  Some wear ties. Some wear hoodies. Intimidation is their game. Same shit. Just worry about what you do.
9. Classifications - The bond market consists of a great number of types of securities - U.S. Treasuries , Corporate High-Yield , Mortgage-Backed Securities ,Asset-Backed Securities ,Agency , Municipal Bonds, Collateralized Debt Obligations. Softball consists of many different styles of play - Arc, Lob, Modifed, Windmill, Sling. The classification in both is broken down by the kind of pitch thrown. 
8. Competition - Both are driven by competition. Where can I get the best return on my financial, time, and pride investment? Compare. Compare Compare.
7. Knowledge is Power - The Bond market is tricky, but like baseball rules, understanding the basics takes the mystery out of them. Educated guesses and interpolations apply.
6. Mathematical Statistics - Bond Market investors want to know key stats like yield, to determine a bond's expected return so they can make an investment decision, Players/managers want to know their key stats like batting average, on base percentage, and earn run average to gauge performance and predict future results. 
5. Clutch - Pressure is a privilege as meeting strict deadlines and stepping up to the plate in key situations a must in both.
4. Benchmarks - bonds and players are both valued relative to a benchmark. For example, a 10-year Treasury might be used as the pricing benchmark for a 10-year corporate bond issue. While players are evaluated relative to the performance of their peers. i.e. Catchers stats are compared to other catchers
3. Curves  - Bond pricing curves are constructed using the yields/rates of underlying securities with similar maturities. In baseball/softball, a savvy pitcher will construct and develop a good curve to give himself an edge.
2. Risk - In both you expect a large return for risk, but you also pay a price.  In the Bond Market , the riskier the investment the larger the return/spread. In softball,  taking chance like missing a cut-off man can open squash a rally or open up a pandora's box. Managing Risk is crucial.
and the Number One Bond Market and Softball Similarities

1. Hustle Hard
- No one is going to give you shit in either industry. Its cut-throat, but when you find a good friend and mentor hold on to them. Trust is earned not given away.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sports Kobayashi Maru

The Kobayashi Maru is a test in the fictional universe of Star Trek. It's a training exercise designed to test the character of cadets in a no-win scenario. Yeah I am a geek and know this shit.Well lately sports has left me feeling

very Kobayashi Maru ish lately

Giants - Pats - Super Bowl - No Win - I'm a Jet Fan and my wife is a Patriots fan

Yanks - Phillies - Dominance - No Win - I'm a Met fan

Met Ownership - No Win - I'm a hardcore Met fan

Jet Collapse and Ugly Fall out - No Win - 43 years and counting

Hell let's be honest Choice Parts - West finals in Softball - No Win - no further comment

In the Star Trek universe the only person to pass the Kobayashi Maru was Captain Kirk who reprogrammed the test so he was able to win. He cheated. Despite having cheated, he was awarded a commendation for "original thinking."

Well in my current sports predicament there is no cheating. Its going to be a while and no one is going to feel sorry for me. Look for solutions from within.

Beam me up Scotty

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Distraction Tactic - Playing Dirty

I've fixed softball fields and shoveled snow and no matter which way you slice it - It's hard work. Today I was suppose to go workout with someone, but the inclement weather cancelled that fun activity and left me the humbling task of earning spare cash by shoveling snow for my building.

This was going to be a decent workout so I set out on the task minding my own business


 and eventually got it done


I was feeling good 

when my neighbor from across the street came over and asked me "Have you been out here for a while?" I though he was going to compliment me, but I was shocked when he told me his door was kicked in and robbed, and asked me if I noticed anything.

I was shocked and felt so bad, like the feeling when someone gets their bag stolen during a softball game because everyone is so into the game that they are distracted and the thief swoops in.

I told him that earlier I noticed a truck with the word "limitless" with city workers cleaning up in front of his neighbors house, but thought nothing of it except, damn I wish this guys could help me. Crazy. Those bastards used that as a cover and distraction for robbing a good man's home in broad daylight

Next time cops tell me to watch my bag I will not brush it off. Distraction Tactics - playing dirty

Proof that the Season is Never Over - Hidden Video

I was on vacation in Miami from December 21st through January 4th. Almost every morning I would go run around the Coral Gables Youth Center & War Memorial. The day after Christmas I noticed a gentleman working out alone and took this never before seen hidden video

Proof that, in one way or another, that the season is never over.

P.S. I did not ask to join him in taking swings. - lol


 The Softball Insider is also now on Twitter as @Softballinsider so we can now follow one another with  text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Holler back at me when you get the chance.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Laying the Foundation to be Fundamentally Sound

"The trouble with baseball is that it is not played the year round." - Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry

In the northeast you can't play year round, but you can practice.  Perfect practice hones the fundamentals that every player needs :
  • Footwork
  • Balance
  • Mechanics
  • Quickness
  • Release point
  • Instinct
 These are the foundation that every player builds their physical skill base around. One of the smartest and most fundamentally sound players I know in Central legend Raf Hernandez

 and he is literally laying the foundation to teach baseball/softball fundamentals in Union City, NJ

 Raf has been teaching players for a living professionally long time, knows what he is doing, and I highly recommend him. He hopes to have all construction completed by March so he can get down to the business of player development.The insider has long has been proponent of small business
and wishes Raf the best of luck in his venture and applauds him for earning a living by teaching the game he loves.

"In the bag" .. Political Self Hitting .. Hurting the Best League Around

You ever begin a softball season knowing that there is no way whatsoever in hell you can lose your league? I mean no way you can lose. Zippo. Nada. It literally is "in the bag" There can be a variety of reasons for this:
  1. Confidence in your skill and teammates.
  2. Your team is stacked with hitters and no else has pitching. No mound threats
  3. You pay for the best players. You have an edge.
  4. Your team may not be the greatest ever, but you know everyone else sucks.
I could list other reasons, but of the top four that I mention above the worst of the bunch is by far #4 "our team may not be the greatest , but everyone else sucks" because it is a noncompetitive environment. Winning in those leagues don't have any flavor or meaning. It's all over before it begins and the league as a whole suffers and eventually falls apart.

This very same thing is happening right now in the presidential election where the Weak GOP field is giving Obama no competition. Now wait a minute, people could point to the struggling economy and say the President as vulnerable, perhaps, but look at the Republican candidate field  and you don't yet see a viable alternative.

Let's look at the All Star's :
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry - he wanted to "stay in Iraq". Dumb. Guess what he's already out and announced he was backing Gingrich. Speaking of which
  • Newt Gingrich - after being out of the race he's back in it despite all the mud slinging about his ex-wives and his "ghetto language quote" .Gingrich would not make a good baseball GM as he does not value the Latin market. Ignorant
  • Ron Paul - He knows he can't win, so why is he running? Simple Power. He's flexing on the GOP by threatening to withhold his followers' votes. His goal is to force the GOP to pay the price of his support which is an isolationist views on foreign policy, revising the Patriot Act, and limiting presidential power. His position are not those of a Republican Party, and if he defects for an independent run then that will result is a re-election boost to Barack Obama as the GOP loses votes. Bottom line he doesn't give a fuck about America. No one takes him seriously.
  • Rick Santorum - has a history of ignorant comments, and being a Teebow "Jesus guy. Whatever he has been surging and winning primaries. He's conservative and that will help with Tea Partiers. But he gets distracted easily and stoops to mudslinging against Romney by comparing him to Obama by saying"Why would we ever vote for someone who is just like Obama?". Mudslinging shows low character.
  • Mitt Romney - he was ahead for a while but now its a dogfight. He's more moderate and a business man but he proposes/ says a lot of dumb shit like:
    (1) Belittling Obama's $1,000 tax cut for typical middle-class families, by calling it a "little Band-Aid.". Too bad his plan would give that same family just $54, savings even he admits is "not a huge tax cut." Stupid
    (2) Doubled down on the idea to "let Detroit go bankrupt," even though the president's rescue of the auto industry saved more than 1.4 million American jobs up and down the supply chain, leading to a renaissance in the American car industry.
    (3) Said he would let the foreclosure process "hit the bottom." so investors can swing in and make a quick buck. Isn't that what got us in trouble in the first place? He has repackaged the same policies that caused the financial crisis -- mistakes like making the middle class pay for tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations and letting Wall Street write its own rules so big bankers can make millions while gambling with everyone Else's economic security. Foul
    (4) Backed the right-wing Republican budget that eventually end Medicare as we know it, gut Social Security and slash funding for higher education. So much for growing old.
    (5) Criticized the president for ending the war in Iraq, saying he would rather leave 30,000 troops on the ground with no clear mission or plan for withdrawal. Not your son there I guess?

    Honestly, about 6 months ago I thought Obama was done, but in this league there is NO way he will lose. Its in the bag, as Obama is self hitting and none of his competitors can make a play. While I am an Obama supporter deep down I know that this lack of competition will hurt the best league in the world - The United States of America. Just for once I wish voting didn't come down to the lesser of two evils.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SB Cocoon

Back in the 80s the movie
highlighted the beauty of  the human spirit through the story of a group of trespassing seniors who swim in a pool containing alien cocoons and are re-energized with youthful vigour.

The game of baseball/softball also serves as a cocoon. When I hear older players say "the game keeps me young , keeps me alive" I am often reminded of Hall of Famer Roy Campanella quote “You gotta be a man to play baseball , but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you too.” One of my favorite parts about the game is that while the actual game is being played time in the real world is irrelevant. However, time is a factor in the game in the form of age. The value of youth 
on the field cannot be understated, but this game has a certain mystical ability to make a participant feel young inside regardless of age. Ironically this fountain of youth effect can be found not too far from Ponce De Leon Boulevard in Miami Fl., at the Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center (softball in Florida?). On every Tuesday and Thursday, Los Veijos immerse themselves in a softball cocoon where they take batting practice,
Senior Citizen Fetchers

play competitively to win,

 have fun,

 and even talk trash

One player is  94 year old outfielder


OK they have special age rules like 6 outfielders, two home plates, and flags
placed in centerfield that indicate fair territory, but what really matters is that for a few hours they feel young again thanks to the softball cocoon.

Truly inspiring - they have the love

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soon the cup will runneth over.. soon

While I have not posted a blog for a while that does not mean the fire that burns inside me

has subsided. It may be the so called "off season", but the passage of time has made me realize that the passion that I dedicate to this post can't be put out by dead of winter. This forum is my outlet, my voice, my soul, and it is ready to be reignited. I thank my community for patiently waiting for softball's Pinocchio to poke his nose back into the game and, as always, I will endeavour to provoke thought, inspire change, and challenge the status quo.

While our softball cup does not runneth over with games in January, it is the time of year where many of us start to prepare for the upcoming season in a variety of ways some of which include:

(1) Self Reflection - look for Solutions from Within

 (2) Practice - honing skills and conditioning

(3) Creative Fund Raising - jerseys and league fees need funding in 2012

(4) Playing in Midnight Madness tournaments in secluded locations to get a SB fix

 Inevitably someone you know will ask "how many days until pitchers and catchers"? That's when the "On" button goes off inside and you get that itch to compete, that fire, that desire for revenge, that something to prove. Soon the cup will runneth over and you will get that chance.