Gaylord Perry was a testament to the power of psychological warfare.
As a young pitcher with the San Francisco Giants coming straight out of High School in Williamston, North Carolina he had two so-so seasons. But he saw the way batters reacted to pitchers like Don Drysdale, whose arsenal included a spitball. Spitballs are illegal. The idea is to put a foreign substance (Vaseline, KY Jelly, etc.) on the baseball to make it dance in the air when propelled by someone with a Major League fastball. It is very erratic and very difficult to control.
When Perry started going through mound rituals where he would compulsively wipe the brim of his cap, dab his eyebrows and so forth; then followed it up with a slider that broke downward, batters began to also suspect that he was throwing the forbidden pitch.
The problem was, he wasn’t. At least not at first. But the batters THOUGHT he was. And if a hitter is worried about going up against an illegal pitch, he is wasting precious resources that are usually being used in the already-daunting mental process of trying to hit Major League pitching. Advantage: Perry.
Of course Perry was coy when asked about the pitch. It became something of a game with him and baseball writers. They would ask, and Perry would give a seemingly different evasive answer each day. The game even extended to his family. A reporter once asked Perry’s daughter, Allison, if her daddy threw a spit. She laconically replied, “It’s a hard slider.” She was five years old!
If we are to believe Perry (and there was never any reason for him to lie after he was selected to the Hall of Fame) he threw spitballs VERY infrequently. And why not? His slider was Major League quality. And if batters THOUGHT he was throwing a spitter, well so much the better. It was not uncommon for him to be checked multiple times per game. Ever the jokester, he was known for putting notes in his pocket reading “It’s not here, but you’re getting warmer.”
Those who DID through spitballs with regularity will tell you it puts a tremendous strain on the arm to control it. Perry’s uncanny career longevity suggests he rarely relied on it. His 5,350 innings pitched is the fifth highest total in the history of baseball. Nuff said.
Perry’s career also demonstrates the curious relationship baseball culture has with the prospect of cheating. The unwritten baseball code dictates that if you can get away with throwing a spitball, more power to you. Of course once you develop a reputation for it, you’re going to be a perpetual suspect. This same code also accepts stealing signs, unless you do it by use of equipment (telescopes, binoculars, etc). The same code also addresses when a team can and cannot steal a base, when it’s OK to charge the mound and when it’s not, how long you are supposed to admire a home run. It is a strange code, but the players seem to know it and respect it.
Perry was also part of a wonderful instance of serendipity that only seems to happen in baseball. As a hitter, Perry was a terrific pitcher. At the plate, he was lost. Teammate Alvin Dark once declared “There’ll be a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” On June 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. 34 minutes later, Gaylord Perry hit his first career home run. Oddly enough he would hit five more in his career, including an improbable solo blast at age 42 while pitching for the Atlanta Braves in 1981!
Perry had another interesting intersection with baseball history during his final season as a member of the Kansas City Royals in 1983. If you remember the infamous “Pine Tar Game,” the image you likely remember is George Brett storming out of the Royals dugout to argue an umpire’s ruling that a three-run homer he had just hit off of Goose Gossage was disallowed because Yankees Manager Billy Martin claimed the was pine tar above the 18-inch mark on his bat…a violation of a rule that evidently Martin was the only one who cared about. The three names listed there are part of baseball lore. Well, Perry was involved as well. He tried to hide Brett’s bat in the clubhouse so they wouldn’t be able to measure the pine tar. The same chicanery that paid off on the mount so often for Perry apparently didn’t extend to stealth abilities. The bat was found, the pine tar was measured, and the rest is history.
Perry made what I consider to be a massive contribution to pop culture without even knowing it. If you enjoyed the movie “Major League” you know the character of Eddie Blake, the aging pitcher who now relied on the spitball to get batters out. The actor who played Eddie worked with the script writers on a scene when Blake tells a young Ricky Vaughn (played perfectly by Charlie Sheen) how to throw the spitter. They used one of Perry’s evasive explanations nearly word-for-word. Awesome!
But even if you ignore the spitball intrigue, Perry was still an amazing pitcher who lasted an amazingly long time in the majors. His first game was in 1962 with John Kennedy in the White House and Major League teams just getting used to flying to games. His last game was in 1983, after Disco and Punk Rock, with Ronald Reagan nearing the end of his first term in Washington.
When Perry retired he continued to use the spectre of the spitter to his advantage. He often greased his hand before shaking hands with celebrities, just to give them a laugh. At old timer’s games, he wore a special uniform bearing the logos of the eight teams he played for in the Majors.
I had a chance to meet him in 2000 when the American Legion World Series was played in Danville and he was the lone Hall of Famer in the legends game. I asked him before the game what he was going to show these youngsters on the mound. He smiled and said, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
My Dad met Perry briefly in a liquor store in Perry’s hometown of Williamston-North Carolina. Evidently he was a Wild Turkey man. Dad shook his hand and reported it was 100% dry.
RIP, Gaylord. You made the game I love better and FAR more interesting.
You didn’t think Vin Scully would pass and I *not* say something about it, did you?
Yes, Ernie Harwell was the baseball voice of my youth, hopeless Detroit Tigers fan that I am; but Vin Scully was “Ernie Harwell” to most everyone else. His ability to paint vivid pictures with an economy of words made him the ideal storyteller for a sport like baseball which consists mostly of anticipatory moments.
The first remarkable thing was Scully’s longevity. His first broadcast was in 1950, a time when air travel and night games were still very much outliers. His last was in 2019. In between we went to the Moon and back, saw 14 US Presidents, fell under the spell of Television, later to be replaced with the Internet and iPhones. Throughout this tumultuous period, Scully voice’s provided a reassuring backdrop to the madness. Hearing him read the final line score was an assurance that there was at least a sliver of sanity left in our Mad, Mad World.
Want to talk about longevity? One of the first games Scully broadcast featured the Philadelphia Athletics, managed at the time by Connie Mack. Mack was born two years after the Civil War. I rest my case.
As someone who has been in the profession for some time, I always marveled at Scully’s flexibility. Calling sports on radio and television is VERY different. At least if you want to do it correctly. You can listen to his radio broadcast of Sandy Koufax’s Perfect Game on radio, and compare it to his 2018 TV broadcast of a no-hitter by Clayton Kershaw. In the Koufax game, Scully’s wonderful voice provides a soundtrack to fill the intense pauses and silences of the game, making the listener tingle with anticipation. In the televised Kershaw broadcast, he lets the pictures do the talking, with his voice lightly punctuating the imagery. He was a master.
What is often overlooked was Scully’s versatility. He didn’t need a broadcast partner. For most of his career it was just him in the booth and no one else. Trust me when I tell you it is VERY difficult to carry a solo three-hour broadcast of a sport like baseball, where the action comes infrequently and in very short spurts. But he did it. And when the Dodgers’ brass decided to move him to TV, he made the adjustments and was perfect. I can’t tell you how many times I would dial up a late-night Dodgers game on MLB.TV just to listen to Vin call a couple of innings. A good end to the day.
As someone who has made a living using their voice there is no way I could have anything other than undying respect for a man who was an absolute master at the craft I love. Vin’s next broadcast will come from the Field of Dreams. I hope someone archives it so I can listen in some day.
One of the perks of having been in the news business for four decades is the chance to watch the sausage being made. It is simultaneously fascinating and repulsive to watch narratives be developed with words and phrases carefully crafted to elicit maximum emotional engagement and predictable Pavlovian responses.
Earlier this week it became obvious that Friday’s announcement of GDP numbers was going to show negative GDP growth for the second consecutive quarter. That has been the traditional definition of a “recession.” You don’t need an ECON degree to make that determination. That has simply been the way a recession has been defined for decades. For better or for worse.
But there is a problem. You see “recession” is a word that has VERY high negatives. All of the spin doctoring in the world will not convince people that a recession is anything other than a very bad thing. I have seen Democrats AND Republicans try and spin the definition of the word for more than thirty years. They can’t. That negative connotation is set in stone and will take generations to change. And of course with mid-term Congressional elections on the horizon, the R-Word is quite the albatross for the party that controls the Executive and Legislative branches.
So what does the ruling party do when we get into a recession? They do something that infuriates me. They try and tell us we’re not ACKSHUALLY in a recession. We started seeing the op-eds Monday from the dutiful and faithful stenographers in the mainstream media. Then the President’s lickspittles began parroting the line. The consistently-incorrect Paul Krugman weighed in Wednesday. And the once-honorable Associated Press offered their help as well.
Never mind that this week’s report will most certainly meet the traditional definition of two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. No, the rules are different with a Democrat in the White House. The Associated Press today upped the ante by attempting to change the traditional definition. The strategy is simple. Since the Democrat’s lapdogs can’t change people’s views of the word “recession,” they’ll simply try and change the definition.
The new definition banks on the fact that current jobless rates are quite low. The spin goes that since “everyone is working,” it cannot be a recession. That is, of course, horsesqueeze. First off, not everyone is working. We have had more than a few people who have dropped out of the work force, calculating that they can live well enough on the public assistance they receive without having to punch a clock. Secondly, jobless rates have little to do with a nation’s overall economic health. If it did the former Soviet Union (0% unemployment) would have been the greatest economy in world history. It was not.
Ask yourself this. If these exact same numbers were occurring four years ago during the Trump administration, would we be seeing this same shameless effort and spin-doctoring from the “unbiased” mainstream media? Look into the mirror and be honest. The NYT would be calling it the “Worst Recession EVAH!” The WapPo would be inundated with stock photos from the Great Depression. You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there has never been in a point in modern history where the media has treated two consecutive negative GDP quarters as anything other than a recession. They did it when GHWB was in office. And they would have GLEFULLY done it if these numbers occurred during the GWB or Trump administrations.
I almost feel sorry for the media. They are tasked with taking a terrible economy and trying to make it appear palatable in order for Democrats to not suffer an historic bloodbath in the mid-term elections. James Carville in his prime would have struggled to pull something like that off.
Of course, that is not SUPPOSED to be their job, is it?
I’ve been pretty consistent over the past couple of years on Red Flag laws as they pertain to guns. I’ve said that I am willing to lend an ear. But I would insist on two things.
First, Due Process will have to be granted as soon as possible. If you can expedite the process by which someone can be denied a Constitutionally-enumerated right without Due Process, then you can most certainly speed up the eventual Due Process. If after a certain period of time, if no Due Process is offered, then the gun(s) would have to be immediately returned to the owner. And this must be done immediately and at public expense.
Secondly, I would want VERY stiff penalties for those who abuse this reporting system. If you falsely accuse someone of major crimes there are remedies to make you pay for it. So must it be with Red Flag laws. You are denying someone a chance to exercise a Constitutionally-protected right and we must treat that with all the gravity it deserves.
But after contemplation I am going to have to change my view. I am no longer open to the concept. Why? Because there is no way it would NOT be grossly abused. I have zero faith in Government in terms of even-handedly administering Red Flag laws.
A good part of that is my innate distrust of Government. But another factor has been what we have witnessed the past two years with COVID. We have seen a national Army of Karens emerge out of restaurant lobbies and HOA meetings, ready to sic their government dogs on anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. Surveys have shown and real-life events have chronicled the staggering number of people who have been emboldened in this culture to see nothing wrong with snitching on people whose only provable crime is looking at things differently. My personal experience has shown once level-headed people who have turned into quasi-demons who have NO qualms about using the near-limitless power of the state to disrupt the lives of others.
There WILL be false reports filed. Lots of them. The same people who morally justify The State ruining the lives of others who jogged without being double-masked will most assuredly call the local constabulary to report the pickup driving dude down the road with the MAGA sign in his front yard. And since the reporter can only be punished if gross negligence is demonstrated in their reporting, then none will be sanctioned. Not a chance in hell.
The same monsters who suggested, seriously, that people should be denied health care if they didn’t get vaccinated for COVID will be the ones calling the cops on people they know have guns. And there is too much that can go wrong to justify giving these harpies ANY chance to disrupt people’s lives.
As for the Due Process angle, I have heard too many nightmare stories of the predictable bureaucratic quagmire one must endure to access the most rudimentary GOVT services. And that includes the restoration of firearms. Too often the person has had to wait an inordinate amount of time and charged unfair fees to be given back what is rightly theirs. I see no evidence that the efficiency of the delivery of Government services has improved in recent years. And if that same GOVT drags it’s feet in returning your property, you have little recourse apart from the expense of hiring legal counsel.
In short, it is the demonstrable ineptitude of our government and the emergence of a hyper-snitch community that has eroded any interest I may have once possessed in considering Red Flag Gun laws.
In just the past generation there has been a sea change in the way US society regards the LGBTQ community. And that has been a good thing.
It is hard to believe that less then 20 years ago, a very liberal state like California voted to outlaw gay marriage. Now, in a very short span of time, gay marriage is the law of the land. Yes, it was technically a Supreme Court opinion that legalized it. But it is impossible to imagine that such a question would be approved today in California…or in about three dozen other states.
This sea change has come about largely because of the work of the LGBTQ community and their allies. Their message of simply wanting to live their lives with dignity and a reasonable assurance of security struck a chord with most fair-minded people. As a libertarian, there I simply no way I can make myself care what two (or more) adults do behind closed doors. So long as consent is involved and minors are not, go for it.
One of the concerns we heard from the Cis community was that LGBTQ supporters wanted more than just tolerance. They wanted acceptance. Or even endorsement. I dismissed those concerns as hyperbolic. Recent events demonstrate they may have had a point.
I worked nearly 20 years with a gay man. I remember one morning he came into the newsroom, visibly upset. He had watched a story the night before where a group of gay protestors had trashed the house of a Town Council member somewhere in New Mexico. His apparent crime was voting against a measure that the gay community supported. My co-worker was livid. I will paraphrase him here.
“I’ve been trying for forty years to convince people that I am just like them, that I am not a monster. It’s only been recently that people don’t automatically dismiss me. After all this work and all this goodwill I and others have helped foster, these little (expletives) are going to f*ck it up for us.”
Of course the contemporary debate on such issues goes far beyond just the gay community. In their effort to gain numbers, the movement incorporated trans people into the fold. By definition, homosexuality and transgenderism are two very different things. But common enemies create allies, so the trans community was lumped into the larger effort.
Now, just as we have seen with some of the more militant elements of the gay community, the extremes of the trans movement have made it clear that unconditional surrender is the only concession they will accept. Just as the gay community morphed from “leave us alone” to “bake us a cake or we will ruin you,” the trans community has adopted an all-or-nothing approach. Their demand has become not just anodyne pronouns, but the unquestioned acceptance of trans people into every segment of society. Really “acceptance” is too mild a word. They are demanding “endorsement.”
The latest flashpoint in the debate is one Lia Thomas. She won the NCAA 500 meter freestyle championship on Thursday by a comfortable margin. Up until two years ago, Lia was a man competing on the men’s team at Penn. As a man, he was ranked #462 in the US. As a woman, she magically became an Olympic-caliber swimmer. Her times are not quite what they were two years ago when Thomas competed on the men’s team, but they are still significantly better than even the best amateur female. That is entirely unsurprising. This website graphically shows the difference in athletic development between males and females. Basically, not a single women in Olympic track and field events would have qualified for the Boy’s High School championships.
Here is the issue. Sports are segregated based on biological sex, not the sex with which one identifies. Period. Here are more facts. Male puberty includes biological enhancements that females simply cannot replicate. It is the very reason we have segregated sports in the first place. All of the Hormone Replacement Therapy in the world cannot undue puberty’s gifts of increased heart and lung capacity, bone density, and a dozen other things. Prepubescent boys and girls can and do compete in many areas because there is no major difference. After puberty, it is over. This doesn’t mean that a 40-year old out of shape dude can transition and win’s the women’s marathon the next week. But it does mean that an in-shape man who is competing at a collegiate level in a sport can transition to female—and even after a year of HRT they will dominate that same sport at the women’s level.
If your defense is that this is a victimless crime, you’re wrong. The Virginia Tech 5th year senior female athlete knocked out of the 500 free finals by Thomas was 2016 Hungarian Olympian Reka Gyorgy. She lost her chance at an NCAA championship because of Thomas’ time. The second-place finisher from the University of Virginia was denied a championship because of Thomas. Every time Thomas qualifies for an event, there is a biological female athlete who worked just as hard to achieve their dreams—only to have them dashed because everyone is force to act like all of this is OK.
Lia Thomas hasn’t broken any rules. She is within NCAA guidelines which stipulate one year of Hormone Replacement Therapy. But when she looks in the mirror—when she thinks about the entire situation, surely Thomas must see that this is wrong. At least I hope that is the case. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible that she is so narcissistic, so caught up in the Cult of Me, that she sees nothing wrong with any of this and is truly mystified about the opposition. It may be that growing up in a world where children are told that their feelings are the most important thing in the universe, she feels this it is entirely natural for her choices to force a lot of other people to make major adjustments in order to edify her. I hope not, but I fear that is the case.
In every debate, note the side that is trying to squelch discussion. That is the side you want to avoid. That is the side you want to oppose. NCAA officials, school leaders and most everyone directing these events is telling the participants they can NOT talk about this farce for risk of losing their scholarships. If this were a defensible position, they would invite commentary. But it is quite indefensible. The body language shown in this picture clearly demonstrates that the women competing against Thomas, the ones who are barred from saying anything about her, know what’s going on.
Much like my co-worker who watched the wonderful gains he and his community made become threatened because of radical elements, we will soon witness a backlash against the trans community so long as it’s most radical elements insist that situations like Lia Thomas’ are perfectly normal and that we are terrible people for even noticing the obvious injustice. This is an issue where the left loses support they would otherwise win by going well beyond what normal folks will bear. Why can’t we accept every part of trans people’s requests like equality, pronouns, workplace protection laws, etc. — while also realizing that allowing biological males to compete against biological females in sports is insane?
Surely there must be a way that we can treat trans people with dignity and respect, withOUT allowing farces like this to continue. Us boring cis white dudes are not going to be able to do this alone. It is imperative that the sane elements of the LGBTQ community and traditional feminists take the lead in pointing out that we passed “a bridge too far” about six exits ago. If not, many of the incredible gains made in the past generation will be lost.
I have watched with worried fascination this weekend hours of live feeds from Ottawa-Canada, where Canadian Government forces are evidently acting on the orders of their repulsive and cowardly Prime Minister by forcibly dispersing a large group of peaceful protesters from Canada’s Capitol city.
The protestors, mostly truckers and related professions, have clear and unambiguous goals. They want an end to vaccine passport policies which force them to ingest a substance into their bodies in order to continue making a living. This same policy does NOT apply to dozens of other professions in Canada—most notably, most government jobs. Like police officers.
Justin Trudeau has secured his legacy as human filth by not bothering to merely oppose the truckers. No. He has also actively dehumanized them. He has called them every filthy name in the book while avoid having to sully his sterling reputation by actually, you know, talking with Canadian citizens with whom he disagrees. His ire is not constrained to the protestors. He brought his petulant name-calling to the floor of the House of Commons last week when he chided a representative who supported the Convoy by assuring the Jewish lawmaker that by supporting the convoy she was also supporting “Swastikas” and “Nazis.” That’s because a few bad flags had been seen amongst the tens of thousands of people. Seriously, he said that.
Evidently being progressive human excrement involves a lot of “blood libel” accusations against Jewish people. Trudeau is the one I truly hope suffers from all this. The same preening weenie who literally took a knee and prostrated himself before protestors he liked in the summer of 2020, immediately morphed into the totalitarian monster he is when the protestors’ views were at odds with his. Trudeau is a horrible human being and I wish him nothing but perpetual discomfort.
I won’t get into detail on what’s going on during the removal. You can see for yourselves. And yes, history has examples of FAR more egregious abuses of police power. But those happen in OTHER places. Not in a Democracy. Not in Canada…Our neighbors. Sharers of the longest undefended border in the history of humankind. These are supposed to be our cool cousins to the north. The ones who are pretty much like us in most other respects. This, literally, hits close to home. This is not happening in some far-away nation whose name ends in “Stan.” This is the place that brought us Wayne Gretzky, not where police use half-ton horses to trample over elderly women using a walker.
This has also been a case study in situational ethics. A quick glance of the Ottawa Police Department’s social media accounts will produce an interesting sight. Users with rainbow flag avatars and bios with copious hashtagged phrases like “resistance” and “BLM” are uniformly praising police like I would cheer for the Virginia Tech Hokies. A quick check of their timelines reveals a sharply different approach to police activities during the post George Floyd riots of 2020. Conversely, more than a few accounts with the thin blue line badge featured prominently are having the same reaction to police that I would have to someone (other than me) urinating off of my deck.
There is another angle to this that has me thinking—always a dangerous thing. The progressive left in the US is fond of using nations like Canada as a model for their proposed policies here in the states. They point to a government that provides most every basic need for every man woman and child as an aspirational goal. Of course, Canada provides much MORE than that, but let’s keep it simple. They also point to nations like Australia and New Zealand as sterling examples of letting Government be society’s main benefactor while STILL maintaining democracy. I hope the events this weekend in Canada and the MANY events the past two years from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand in going completely bonkers while forcefully implementing draconian COVID policies disabuses us of any notion that their citizens are, in any meaningful way, “free.”
My stock answer for years to those who promote Democratic Socialism has been my belief that there are geographic and mathematical factors that make similar policies harder to implement here in the states. But there is a less-quantifiable belief that is much stronger. That is my belief that a people who have everything provided for them will become (whether they realize it or not) slaves to the debt. They will be indebted to the Government for their basic well-being.
In antebellum years the US Government offered lots of incentives for people to settle in what is now the upper Midwest. (Ohio/Michigan/Indiana/etc.). You will recall the “forty acres and a mule” policy. When the Civil War came and President Lincoln sent out a call for volunteers, they got an inordinate positive response from people in this section who owed their land and most of their well-being to the Government. They were more than glad to answer the call.
At the same time, there was NO government assistance for those who settled lands west of the Mississippi and south of the Ohio. These were the original frontiersmen, largely self-made and distrustful of government. When the Confederate States of America sent out a similar call for volunteers, they get very little response from Louisiana/Arkansas/etc. Their government had done nothing for them, so they felt no compulsion to answer the call.
When you grow up in a world where the Government is the main (and possibly, only) benefactor then it is quite natural that you will support them no matter what. That is, quite literally, the hand that feeds you. You will overlook a LOT of atrocities so long as you are not the target—and so long as the Government check clears.
You will even support Government officials who have promised to freeze financial assets of people caught participating in a peaceful protest. They have promised to contact their employers. On Sunday, six cops showed up at a downtown café who had fed the truckers. They forced them to and threatened to break down their doors if they did not comply. If someone can tell me what using Tony Soprano-style intimidation techniques to force a cafe to close has to do with removing a convoy I would love to hear it. Actually, no. I would not. Your attempt at justification would likely infuriate me.
This is absolutely unacceptable. If you are arrested for murder in Canada, authorities will not dox your employer or seize your bank accounts. In this respect, peaceful protestors are being treated far worse than murder suspects. But don’t worry. They live in a “democracy,” right?
As for the police officers involved in this removal, I think I have already made myself clear elsewhere. You are making a choice. Choose wisely. People will NOT forget. Ever.
Several great people have made variations of this quote…MLK is the most cited, but the origin is less important than the message. Here is a paraphrase:
“Our character is not determined by how we behave in times of comfort. It is determined by how be behave in times of DIScomfort…of crises.”
In times of comfort, Canada (and most other left-leaning democracies) seem to provide adequate services to their population with few issues. But in times of crises, they spectacularly flunk the test. That is the norm, not the exception. It is one of the many reasons I will try to fight efforts to turn OUR great experiment in Constitutional Republicanism into a quasi-slave state where it is impossible to see the distinction between the State and the Individual.
The timing caught me off guard, but the “mutual agreement” between Virginia Tech and Head Football Coach Justin Fuente to part ways was inevitable.
The timing was curious insofar as the buyout option on his contract goes from $10 million to $7.5 million on December 15th. Reports indicate the two sides met in the middle and agree to a $8.75 million settlement. Yes, I still consider $1.25 million to be a “lot of money.” Of course, I am now in my mid-fifties and am officially justified in sporting the cranky old man attitude I have now sported for more than thirty years.
Without hearing more, I am guessing the university wanted to avoid two things. First, the lame duck “dead man walking” aura of having a coach stalking the sidelines over the last two games who was NOT going to be back. I can see where that would be demoralizing.
Secondly, I think they wanted to avoid the possible conflicts that could have arrived had the Hokies managed to rally and actually WIN those two games and qualify for a bowl! After last week’s impressive performance, if Fuente’s charges had managed to close out with road wins at Miami and in Charlottesville it would have put us at 7-5 with a bullet—heading into a Belk/Music City-tier bowl. It is hard to jettison a coach when his team is on a clear upward trajectory.
With Fuente gone the Hokies can focus on football and not have to worry about the immediate future. Former Hokie hell-raising Defensive Tackle J.C. Price will serve as Interim Head Coach. That’s a far cry from the spiky-haired Freshman who damned near flunked out of school in the early 90’s after arriving in Blacksburg and spending most of his time drunk off of his ass, playing Nintendo.
As for Fuente, yes I have been quite vocal about my displeasure in last year’s decision to keep him on board for what essentially amounted to a “trial year.” That is bad management. If the Hokies had over-performed this year and Fuente been retained, that was no guarantor of future success. Neither would have any shortcomings been proof of future failure. It is the long-term results and the reliable predictors which led me to the conclusion last year that we should cut ties with Fuente.
What can I say? At the time of the hire, Fuente seemed the best of the “hot” coaching candidates. Before arriving in Memphis, the Tigers were 5-31 in a three-year span. But he posted a 19-6 record in the final two seasons of his four-year Memphis stay. It included the development of a raw talent into an NFL quarterback (Paxton Lynch); earning Fuente a reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.”
It was hard not to be excited after the first season. Using a JUCO transfer QB, the Hokies won the coastal and played the eventual national champions from Clemson to a one-score game in the ACC title game. In the Belk Bowl the Hokies staged a super second-half comeback to beat Arkansas. They finished 10-4 and were ranked #16 in the country.
From there the story sours. It will be hard to revisit it, but here goes.
***Losses to all 3 in-state FBS programs in 3 years
***6 losses to unranked teams while ranked
***5 losses as a double-digit favorite
***3 straight bowl losses
***6 losses of 21 points or more
***Worst home loss in 45 years
***VT’s only losing season since 1993
***Recruiting that was ranked in the bottom third of the ACC for three consecutive years.
***Streak of 27 consecutive bowl games snapped
***Streak of 16 consecutive wins against UVa snapped
Unfortunately there is more. We had three starting quarterbacks transfer out of the program in a three-year period. That is unheard of, especially for a “quarterback whisperer.” Yes, the transfer portal has made such moves easier than ever before. But there was a conspicuous pattern under Fuente’s tenure of quarterback dissatisfaction. That is not a recipe for success.
And there are other intangibles to consider. I have said it many times. If you are a college football coach with the charisma of a turnip, you had DAMNED sure better win a lot of games. Thems the rules. Fuente did not. Fans of Indiana University put up with a LOT of shit from Bobby Knight for years…until he started losing a lot of games.
Add to this Fuente’s very closed-off nature of dealing with the press and other avenue of public outreach. The program was much more shut off to the public compared to the Frank Beamer years. Tech football is a marketable commodity and has to be repeatedly “sold” to the public. The modern head football coach has got to have (at bare minimum) rudimentary marketing skills. Or at the very least, designate those duties to someone who does. Fuente fell short in both areas.
Fuente’s very nature meant that he rarely showed any emotion on the sideline. That’s fine. Some of the great stone-faced coaches of the past (Tom Landry, Bud Grant, etc.) are proof that you can be stoic while still being effective. But when you juxtapose this demeanor against the backdrop of frustration, well, it just felt to rabid Hokie fans that Fuente never shared the frustration with us. That is probably a petty thing, but it is a thing.
It is never easy replacing a legend. Especially one who still lives a few miles from the stadium where you play. Simply put, the minimum standard of performance that was set in Blacksburg was not reached by Justin Fuente. It is unfortunate, since Fuente seems like a genuinely nice guy—a family man with good morals. I wish it had worked out. I truly do. And I enthusiastically wish him nothing but the best.
Now we will begin something that hasn’t happened in decades at Virginia Tech. A full-bore public coaching Silly Season. Fuente’s hiring was done quickly, sparing us the drawn-out process of bandied-about names, flight records checks and other assorted madness.
Drink up, fellow Hokies. The next couple of weeks won’t be boring!
Democratic White Houses SURE love looking at people’s lives primarily through the lens of how much Government can help them. And their efforts make North Korean Government propaganda look even-handed in comparison.
We remember the odious “Life of Julia” from the Obama administration. It told the story of a woman who never had to make a crucial decision in her life, thanks to her friendly government. It highlighted a life where the fictional hero simply moved from one government program to another before they assumed room temperature.
Now we are being blessed with the “Life of Linda.” Ostensibly, this examines how wonderful life would be if we abandoned all fiscal discipline and spent trillions of dollars we don’t have on projects that enrich the constituencies and supporters of certain members of Congress.
The result is the same. Another mediocre existence where Government is so invasive that it is impossible to do anything where they are not the primary agency. People are given enough to survive so they can contribute to the collective.
I suppose my libertarian version of the “Life of Chuck” wouldn’t be as compelling.
1. Chuck is born.
2. Chuck dies.
3. In between, the Government leaves Chuck the f*ck alone so long as he is not interfering in the individual liberties of others. They maintain a system of justice which Chuck rarely notices, since he is not a lawbreaker and always honors the contracts and agreement he enters—and the ones with whom he voluntarily interacts do likewise. They maintain a military which Chuck rarely notices because our shorelines are safe. Hell, they even build a road or two. But for the most part, they are invisible, and are only available on those rare occasions when Chuck needs them for a specific purpose. Otherwise, Chuck is left largely to his own devices to determine his successes and failures—because every significant life contains a good amount of both.
Doesn’t have a “hook,” does it?
It is fair to note that in both of these government masterpieces there is not even the slightest mention of a father. There’s a reason for that. In this idyllic society, the Government is the father. Evidently they HATE competition.
I can’t wait for senility to set in so crap like this doesn’t disgust me.
It’s one thing to witness the sausage being made. It’s quite another to see legitimately poisonous ingredients tossed in alongside the pig lips and ass parts.
In their zeal to own the rubes, the mainstream media is spending their Labor Day weekend inventing stories based on their view of people living in non-coastal states. Much like they highlighted two or three stories last year of people ingesting fish tank cleaner in an effort to ward off COVID, they’ve found their 2021 version of hydrochloroquine in horse de-wormer Ivermectin.
The narrative goes that bib overall-wearing hicks in flyover country are SO determined to avoid getting the COVID vaccine that they are latching on to tenuous reports about the efficacy of ivermectin in treating the symptoms. This hits on too many stereotypes for the august media class to ignore. They are now reacting with all of the dignity of a starving wolf attacking a three-day old pork chop.
The two most egregious violators are an organization that has a fairly-good reputation…and another whose reputation is shit—yet still gets gullible people to take them seriously. The Associated Press reported that 70% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center were from people who had ingested ivermectin to try to treat COVID-19. A correction issued a short time later acknowledges that it was actually only 2%. I’m just a silly yahoo from the foothills, but even I know that is not a “correction.” That is a “refutation.”
Given the AP’s business model, hundreds of local/regional outlets shared the original story. It is unknown how many have shared the correction but it is substantially less. Of course, that’s the way “fake news” spreads these days. The unbiased Mainstream Media makes a “mistake.” 99% of the time it is a mistake that casts Republicans in a negative light. If these were truly honest mistakes, then SOME of them would paint them in a positive light…law of averages, right?
But no. These are mistakes borne out of a preconceived effort to make conservatives look bad. Most of them are the result of journalists abandoning all professional discipline in order to “get one over” on someone they hate.
Of course they issue a retraction/correction, as if that makes everything better. And of course that retraction is seen by about a tenth of the people who saw the original story.
Again…if these mistakes sometimes made rural conservatives look better than they deserve, you would have a point. But they do not. They primarily flow in one direction. That is because they are NOT “mistakes.”
Going even lower than the AP, enter the reliably-execrable Rolling Stone magazine. The publication that has been at the center of two of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in modern history is STILL churning out pablum that some are ingesting like so much ivermectin.
They were not content to err with a mere mathematical error. Oh no. They put out a story that would have made a National Enquirer editor wince. They reported that an Oklahoma hospital was so overwhelmed with patients who had overdosed on ‘horse dewormer meds’ that gunshot victims were having to wait for beds.
I mean seriously. This reads like Proggie Fan Fiction. They picked up the initial details from a local newspaper. But instead of taking the extraordinary step of calling the hospital to confirm the findings, they ran with it—with a few embellishments. Of course, a quick call to the hospital would have told them they were treating NO such patients. And had NEVER treated anyone with those symptoms. Ah, but that would have shredded the narrative about stupid MAGA supporters slurping horse medicine and being hospitalized, preventing treatment of all of the rednecks who are being randomly shot because of all of the guns roaming around in Oklahoma. I swear, I bet the writers got sexually excited while drawing this one up.
And the liberal Twitter Blue Check Brigade could NOT help themselves. They shared this story with reckless abandon. It was funny to watch their reaction hours later when the story was exposed as bunk. Some were STILL trying to make it true. Most just dirty-deleted their tweet. A couple of honorable ones issued a mea culpa and took their medicine.
This story, and the vociferousness with which it was shared shows the true colors of the media and their allies. They gobbled it up and asked for seconds—and were completely incurious about the source. That’s because they’re not hungry for the truth. They are hungry for nourishment to feed their predetermined narrative. They could NOT ignore a story like this which seemed to be the Holy Grail in terms of narrative-enhancing tropes that they could exploit.
It brought to mind another Rolling Stone hoax that checked off all of the same boxes. The Duke Lacrosse case dominated the headlines in 2004. When it broke, the mainstream media sprang into action. Soon, stories appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun about the “culture” of the lacrosse team. Of course that means they were mostly rich white boys. The Raleigh News and Observer even sent reporters to the Jersey suburb where two of the accused lived—taking special care to point out that the average home in the area sold for nearly a million dollars. They featured pictures of the subdivision, lest anyone think they were making it up.
None of these stories were meant to bring about truth, perspective or facts. They were meant to add to the myriad of things that already divide us. They injected high-octane fuel into an already-combustible mixture of angst and desperation. The media wanted chaos to fuel sales. And they wanted most of all to outrage people who’ve learned little else other than outrage. It basically confirmed every stereotype that the writers and their editors held about certain groups of people. As such, they abandoned all journalistic discipline and framed the facts in such a manner as to buttress their narrative. Unfortunately, the ACTUAL facts told a much different story.
Even with that saga fresh in their minds, Rolling Stone STILL didn’t give a damn. In 2016, they gave us a pile of journalistic dreck which will stand the test of time. The “UVa Rape on Campus.” It was a story of an alleged rape on the campus of the august school. And it was a lie. The same issues played out. The writers were told a story that appealed to their stereotypical prejudices. When one read the article, it was like each character introduced came straight out of central casting. Everyone wearing clearly-defined white hats and black hats. Sound familiar?
The worst part is, there are rarely consequences for those who intentionally spread exaggerations and falsehoods in order to demonize people they do not like. Yes, Mike Nifong was disbarred for prosecutoral misconduct in the Duke Lacrosse case, but the media ghouls who intentionally poured high-octane fuel on a raging fire paid NO price. The same sanctimonious Senators who cast aspersions on Brett Kavanaugh with no corroborating evidence are (mostly) still in the Senate. The jackasses who tried to immediately cast teens wearing MAGA hats as evil incarnate have still been braying about other BS.
At this point, if you happen upon an ivermectin/“horse dewormer” story, your best bet is to assume the story is BS. That it is merely another attempt by sophisticated urbanites to guffaw at “those Neanderthals” while sipping their Caramel Macchiatos. And you will be correct far more often than not.
I am noting some familiar feelings and thoughts sliding back into my consciousness as COVID-19 makes its unsurprising rebound. Yes, I said “unsurprising.” The virus has mutated and will continue to. Why? That is what viruses do.
It feels like the combination of malaise/ennui/depression I had last fall when case numbers were rising and people were calling me a literal murderer because I simply asked for scientific justification before new restrictions were implemented. I don’t want to go back there but the same people still have social media accounts. I am working VERY hard to tune them out, but I fear it won’t be enough.
The numbers suggest the Delta variant is quite communicable, but not quite as lethal as the original strain. But that second fact is doing little to soothe the nerves of people who have (unfortunately) become quite accustomed over the last year-and-a-half to seeing the dark cloud behind every silver lining. I swear there are people who seem positively *giddy* when they say things like, “We’re gonna hafta close the restaurants again!”
As cases increase more and more are falling back on calls for people to wear masks whenever they’re in the same Area Code as another human. The President of the United States of America is mulling a proposal to require proof of vaccination for doing something as innocuous as driving to another state. And there DO exist people who want to empower the most powerful force on the planet with the authority to FORCE people to get a shot.
I am libertarian. My credo is “mind your own business and keep your hands to yourself.” I cannot imagine a simpler philosophy. But just like there are proverbially no atheists in a foxhole, there are evidently no libertarians during a pandemic. At least no popular ones. Of course, if I wanted to be popular I wouldn’t be a libertarian.
As a libertarian, I will fight and die for your right to NOT have to put something into your body that you do not want. That I even have to type that is depressing. Yet we have become so consumed by fear that there are otherwise-normal people who support empowering an entity with near-limitless power with the authority to force you to have a substance put into your body. Picture a dystopian film about a futuristic society where faceless agents hold down the hero and forcibly inoculate him with something he doesn’t want. Over the top? Yes. But there are people who functionally want to do this to protect themselves from a malady with a post-vaccination IFR of 99.97%. Pre-vaccination, it is a mere 99.7%.
For those of you who are bullish on mandatory mask policies and the like, you have NO right to look down on those who are skeptical. Why should people NOT be skeptical? The same people who told us “two weeks to flatten the curve,” later said, “We’ll get back to normal when the vaccine is approved.” Then they said not until it was available for all adults. Then they said it would have to be received by an overwhelming majority of adults. Also, these are the same people who told us masks were “useless” —then later said they were “critical.” And these SAME people said they would not trust a vaccine developed with the previous President in the White House. But with a new President, that makes the vaccine OK. The question should be, why is EVERYONE not at least a little skeptical? There is copious justification for asking questions about a substance that’s about to be injected into you when the people who insist you get it have been so mendacious in the past.
That having been said, every single bit of evidence that is available screams one conclusion. The vaccines WORK. Now, that does not mean they are 100% effective. Nothing is. Ever. For anything. If 100% safety is your expectation, you will always be disappointed. That is a fool’s errand and an authoritarian’s dream scenario.
I’ve been vaccinated. I got all of the information I could and concluded the risk was worth it. If you reached a different conclusion, that is fine. I would NEVER force you to do something you did not want to do. But for those of you on the fence, I urge you to reconsider. The vaccines work. Even if they do little to prevent the spread of the new variants, the numbers show they are quite effective in easing the symptoms and avoiding long-term complications.
At the same time, one of the biggest incentives to get the vaccination is a return to normalcy. Telling people they are still going to have to wear masks, socially distance and all of the other niggling things they’ve had to do for the past year-plus, even if they get the shot—is one of the best ways of making sure they don’t.
So please. Get the shot. If not for yourself, get it in order to help ensure this fall’s High School and College football seasons can proceed as scheduled. Let’s think about what is REALLY important here.