Month: July 2009

Brooks, Big Train, and The Onion

I’m not sure it is a good sign when New York Times columnists begin showing up at Bethesda Big Train wooden bat league baseball games. Tonight I was at Shirley Povich Field for the Cal Ripken, Sr. League playoff game between Big Train and the Herndon Braves when I look down my aisle to the right (of course) and there sits David Brooks, conservative voice of the Times editorial page and PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer.  Brooks is a commentator who says enough sane things (e.g., see comments about Sarah Palin) to make some believe he’s bi-partisan.  I’ll reserve judgment on that…but I usually agree with how his columns are “interpreted” by the Daily Kos Abbreviated Pundit Round-Up (e.g., David Brooks recycles another “we’re all going to die” column). Nonetheless, I’m not picking on conservatives.  Heck, I’d be concerned if it was Maureen Dowd sitting down the row in the bleachers from me.  Part of the fun of college wooden league baseball is that it really has that small town, family feel.  Kids throw out …

Modernism and Baseball Stadiums

My colleague Dolores recently pointed me towards a springtime blog rant by long-time preservationist – and baseball fan – Clem Labine.  Entitled Hey Nick – Get REAL, the blog goes after New York Times architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff for panning the two new baseball stadiums in New York City by saying that “American stadium design has been stuck in a nostalgic funk, with sports franchises recycling the same old images year after year.”  Read it for the writing, if nothing else.  (Clem was the founder of The Old House Journal eons ago and you’ll see his way with the written word.) Camden Yards in Baltimore (photo at the top of the post) began the trend toward throwback stadiums. Having attended many a ballgame there (and in other similarly inspired parks), I agree with Clem that these ballparks work AND give the fans what they want. But my recent trip to Kansas City gave me the chance to visit one of the first of the good modernist sports venues – Kauffman Stadium.  The architects here show …

Northern Ireland Photos

Late last month, Claire and Andrew took a trip to Northern Ireland with their youth group.  While there they walked the wonderful coastline of County Antrim and the Giant’s Causeway; visited sites of the National Trust of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland; met with groups focused on peace and reconciliation; and took lots and lots of photographs. In looking at those photos, my mind went back a decade to my own trip to Northern Ireland for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Like the children’s trip, mine was an eye and mind-opening experience.  I recently looked at my diary from that trip and enjoyed reliving my experiences. So I’ll share Andrew’s (color) and Claire’s (black-and-white) photos from June/July 2009, and I’ll share a few diary entries from December 1998. 12/8/98 – I found Crom Castle most interesting.  As we arrived, Irish deer – with huge racks – stared at us from the deer park…had my first Irish whiskey of the trip.  Great for warming chilled bones! 12/8/98 – We have a late afternoon stop at …

Bluegrass in Nashville

There’s an interesting article in last Monday’s Washington Post about bluegrass music venues in Nashville.  For those who live in the city, this report is old news.  For many of my friends and colleagues coming to Nashville in the fall, however, this will be important information you’ll want to tuck away for those times in between conference sessions.  If you want to find bluegass music in Nashville, you’ll want to visit places like the Ryman Auditorium and the Station Inn. At the top of this post, you’ll see an old black-and-white photo of the author – in his college days – playing some bluegrass very near Nashville with good friends:  banjo-picker John Balch and singer Jody Kammerud.  Thought it would be fun to see those Tennessee pickers in their youth! The article mentions the family band Cherryholmes.  Enjoy the video of the band. More to come… DJB

Wooden Bat League Baseball Makes the Big Time

Our local college wooden bat league – the Cal Ripken, Sr. League – made the big time tonight when the DC/Baltimore regional sports network (MASN) carried the Wooden Bat League All Star Game between the Ripken and Valley League all stars.  Held in Waldorf, Maryland, this was a great showcase for a wonderful summer tradition. Just like last evening’s MLB All-Star game, pitching dominated, with the Ripken All Stars taking a 2-1 win in a crisply played contest.  It was great to see Staunton Braves players, from our former home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, battling players from the Bethesda Big Train and the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. There’s still plenty of time to catch a Wooden Bat League game in your area…whether it be DC, the Shenandoah Valley, Cape Cod, Alaska, California…you name it! More to come… DJB

As We Approach the All-Star Break…

Regular readers know that I like good baseball writing.  So on a night when the Nationals are uncharacteristically beating up the Astros with 13 runs and 21 hits in a laugher, it was a double treat to find a great story on ESPN.com by Jayson Stark. Best, worst, and weirdest of the first half is a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of April – July 2009 in Major League Baseball.  Stark goes through his first half Cy Young winners, but he also calls out the Cy Yuk winner for the worst pitcher in each league.  Yep, you guessed it…former National Daniel Cabrera won that dubious award for the National League.  Cabrera got the boot… …from a boss so exasperated by his work that GM Mike Rizzo actually announced to the Washington Post, right out loud, that he had to dump this guy because “I was tired of watching him. There are little gems throughout, but the laugh out loud stuff comes in the “Injuries of the Year” section.  Here’s Stark’s take: …

Happy Birthday Satchel Paige

Today would have been the 103rd birthday of Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the legendary pitcher from the old Negro Leagues.  Boston.com has a column about Paige by Larry Tye, who has written a well-received biography of the baseball star. Tye’s column contends that Paige was a subversive to the Jim Crow laws of his era: But there is more to Satchel’s legacy than eye-popping records. While many dismissed him as a Stepin Fetchit if not an Uncle Tom, he was something else entirely – a quiet subversive, defying Uncle Tom and Jim Crow. He refused to play in a town unless it supplied lodging and food to him and his teammates, a defiance for which young civil rights workers later would get arrested. Paige is known for many things in baseball, but most remember him because of his turn of a phrase.  The Brainy Quote website has a host of Paigeisms, including: Age is a case of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter. Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but …