5-4-2005 They loved you for it


Democrats tell us the American people share their vision, yet many of their leaders won't be honest about who they are and what they believe. Please tell me how it's possible that Hillary Clinton could be the odds-on favorite among committed liberals if she truly believes in the center-to-right positions she's been mouthing lately? She doesn't, and her base knows it. It's a conspiratorial deceit of staggering proportions. The party is morally bankrupt, lacking the integrity to be square with the people about its core principles.--David Limbaugh

It's hard to argue with that.

I found the following on the forum page.

Settin' the Record Straight -- Mr. Oblivious, 22:25:19 05/02/05 Mon [1]

While I admire your passion for the career of Hank Aaron, your comment, "And he hit home runs at a very steady pace. He never hit 40," is not true.

Aaron actually hit 40 or more 8 different times with arguably his best season coming at the age of 37 when he hit 47 HR's and drove in 118 while batting over .300.

Ironically, with all the talk of Bonds hitting HR's really late in his career, Aaron had his last 40 HR season at the age of 39.

What baseball historians forget to tell about Aaron was that he had the speed to go with the power. While we're always told that today's players are on an entirely different level, the facts show that Aaron stole 20 or more bases six different times and had an incredible 31 SB's in '63.

As for today's game, Palmeiro is at the end of a career. Sosa, McGwire, Bonds and Giambi are guilty with the charge. That doesn't excuse a baseball community that allowed the practice to become acceptable.

Cheating has always been part of the game. Whether it's scuffing a ball or tapping a bat, it won't stop. But better policing is in order to bring most everyone back to an even playing field.

Surely I stand corrected, but I think I made my point. Maybe the passage of so many years has made my memory cloudier and cloudier. Maybe I should forego the internet when I'm beat off of my ass. Maybe I should Google search what I think I know before I proudly proclaim that I know it. Maybe It doesn't matter a lick. I'm leaning towards the latter.

I find it interesting that I thought Aaron never hit more than 40 big ones in any given season. After watching Jolly Green Giants hit 50, 60 and 70 home runs while being intentionally walked more often than not, I think that may have helped to diminish my accounts of the accomplishments of those that came before them in the minds of the folks that cheered those on who came before. I know this much with certainty, only three times during my entire life have I been convinced that "this" guy could be the one to knock off Babe Ruth's home run record before steroids came along. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were the first two naturals I was lucky enough to watch play on occasion. And the last one was Ken Griffey Jr.. As we all know, Griffey's steady march towards baseball immortality has been stymied by injury after injury of late. But I do not pity him in the least. Some guys can play for a quarter century and avoid the injury bugaboos. And others cannot. It could be due to bad luck, too much night life, heredity, or none of the above. But it is what it is.

Ironically, with all the talk of Bonds hitting HR's really late in his career, Aaron had his last 40 HR season at the age of 39.

I'm too tired to go Google searching right about now, so for the sake of argument we'll assume that to be true. Although, I know Aaron had some really good years as his thirties threatened to become his forties. But all irony aside, his rapidly advancing age finally caught up to Aaron and his batting prowess disintegrated rapidly, if not overnight. There did come that day when he hit that brick wall all athletes were known to hit before the 'roids came along. Such is the way of the world for human beings. Such is nature.

But what of Barry Bonds? What of Mark McGwire? Sammy Sosa? The older these guys got, the more gargantuan they got. And when they started missing the mistake pitches by a country mile and popping them up for home runs, baseball's credibility sank lower than any strike season ever caused it to. The McGwire/Sosa chase to 70 or 80 home runs was about the most trumped-up debacle I have ever seen. And yet, nobody other than the fans suggested that something smelled foul. Just look at Bonds' ever-expanding forehead. If an air horn sounds anywhere near him, his forehead will probably explode and shower his adoring fans with brain matter.

Some folks have taken care of themselves and played into their forties. But not very many. Phil Niekro pitched for 102 seasons, but his knuckler usually topped out around 55 miles an hour on the most primitive speed guns. Watch Tim Wakefield. He might hang around a very long time. No physical stress...no injury. Julio Franco is older than me and still productive, but he doesn't hit a home run every third at bat.

No...sorry, but when these athletes pass the ultimate threshold, that 40th birthday of theirs, they are not supposed to be dominating the game and rewriting the record books faster than they can posssibly be rewritten. Aaron played well into his late thrities, but being a human being and all, his hand/eye coordination abandoned him faster than Barry Bonds can crush an M1/A1 with his bare pinkies.

Cheating has always been part of the game. Whether it's scuffing a ball or tapping a bat, it won't stop. But better policing is in order to bring most everyone back to an even playing field.

That is has. And the same goes for every sport. A couple of weeks ago, I heard Joe Thomas and Rob Neyhard saying exactly the same thing on WILK. And caller after caller recounted how they had cheated at some point during their varied sporting careers. It was funny as all hell. A hoot for sure. And I was even tempted to call in, but I doubted that anyone would appreciate a story about how to cheat at HO slot car racing. If you happened to be an Auto World veteran, you would understand what extra armature windings mean to that sport.

On a brief aside, I was at the brand spanking new Pierce Street Deli today. Trust me, grab the wife and head on in there for a bite of lunch. The atmosphere in that place is truly unique. I'm not mucking about. Stick your head in there. Anyway, that recently remodeled property used to be the home of Anthracite Electric. And before that? Does anybody know what filled those walls before that? No? That joint used to be an indoor slot car racing emporium. No foolin'. If you think I'm busting ya-yas, go and talk to an old-timer who happens to have a keen memory, or a burning desire to have at it with the HO racing cars one more time.

While I admire your passion for the career of Hank Aaron,

I admired him as a kid. And I still admire his accomplishments as a psuedo adult. And no player since him has demanded even near the same level of admiration from me. And I think it'd be a shame to see 756 eclipsed by players who needed an unnatural scientific boost to overshadow his amazing career.

Whatever.


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From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark!

You're a no good sumn'bitch! And I'm a no good sumn'bitch. And the Fire Chief's a no good sumn'bitch. It seems that my union president is also a no good sumn'bitch as well as a number of my union brothers! Oh yeah, Kathy Kane's a no good sumn'bitch too.

What happened to me? I used to be a nice guy. People seemed to enjoy being in my company. Am I no longer witty? Fun to be around? Are my dance steps too dated? I've never been known as being smarter than the average Joe, yet had always found myself surrounded by like minded people. And now I'm a no good sumn'bitch!

Yep, I had my hat handed to me again this very night. A casual post wake conversation turned into a verbal free for all in which I was greatly out numbered and left with that 'I feel so dirty' look on my face. A wake, a beer, a closed firehouse, a crowd. I just gotta learn to shut my mouth and walk away. Will I ever learn?

I know why I'm a no good sumn'bitch. It was made abundantly clear to me this evening. I'm now going to tell you why you're a no good sumn'bitch. Apparently you Mark Cour were the champion of the down trodden. Champion of the voiceless masses who's fears of retribution kept them lurking in cyberspace. That is to say until they found a kindred spirit in Wilkes-Barre Online. Yes Mark, to them you were a commoner willing to share your angst against the evils of the "Two Tom's of the Courthouse". Willing to speak out against the insidious deceit of the last City administration. Willing to challenge the ineptitude of the Chamber of Golf Pro's. And cite the malaise that had taken hold of our City Council. With a heart as true as the living rock ( and maybe some "roll") you bravely typed the words of truth that lay repressed in the souls of the meek. They loved you for it. And you've thrown it all away because a politician came to your block party. Whereupon the ground opened up and Lucifer himself laid a hand upon your shoulder commanding that you shall worship Tom Leighton as the savior of Wilkes-Barre and all things nasty. That despite his unremarkable and ineffectual years as a City Councilman (save an unspeakable act involving a prostitute, S. Main street, and a ride to Police Headquarters) you shall sing his praises to all who shall hear your voice. Too dramatic? Maybe I read too much into that part? I will paraphrase: "Sumn'bitch!". I like you, so I am a no good sumn'bitch by proxy.

Jake Lisman's a no good sumn'bitch. Because he never fought a fire. And he wrecked a fire engine. He turned his back on his union brothers. His Dad was the Mayor (oooooo!). And he couldn't pass the Captain's test. I support him, try to understand the predicament he's in, and respect him. I defend him though I don't need to. I am a no good sumn'bitch.

Tom Makar is a no good sumn'bitch. He traded firehouses and union jobs for a brass badge. He instills fear in his brothers by alleging headquarters will lose their engine if the Heights gains one. He sold me down the river with that last contract. I think we collectively did what we thought was best for the city in regard to the contract and don't believe Tom used me as a stepping stone to promotion and am again a no good sumn'bitch.

Some of my union brothers are no good sumn'bitches too because they're only interested in making sure their neighborhoods have adequate fire protection. And because they stood up to Lee Namey but cower in the shadow of Leighton. They don't want to screw up their chances of a political appointment by rocking the boat. I drink beer and play "Pull my finger" with these guys. You got it! I'm a no good sumn'bitch.

Kathy Kane is a no good sumn'bitch. Because she organized a tour of the firehouse but went to Hershey for a beauty treatment that very day. Because she went to the Frog Pond instead of a firehouse meeting. Because she has buckets full of money. And mostly because she's Kathy Kane. I have nothing for this one, but I'm still a no good sumn'bitch.

So what happened here? If you and I are the bad guys who's wearing the white hats? If no level of City service is to be trusted are we all doomed? Will the City implode?

Honestly, if I could persuade the Mayor to reopen East Station I would. You know that. If kneeling before him on Public Square while begging for a firehouse would end this dilemma I would swallow what pride I have left and do it. But that's not going to happen. As far as I can tell the only way to reopen East Station is for my neighbors to take this pent up anger and energy and direct it towards the people who can achieve that goal. Denise Carey can't hand it to them on a silver platter. No committee of four or five people is going to persuade the Mayor to rehire enough firefighters to staff the building. Find a weakness and exploit it. Build a strategy and employ it. For God's sake do something other than bitch about people who aren't your enemy. Clarity of purpose fades with inactivity. If they really want this firehouse, let them act now. Or let them put their tails between their legs and simper on home.

It's past my bed time and I'm pooped. I need to be of some useful purpose to my best friend tomorrow. But I feel better after getting that off my chest. Oh, BTW, I'm ordering "The Ruttles : Can't Buy Me Lunch" tomorrow. Want me to burn a copy for you?

Harry


Let's cover the real critical stuff first. YES! By all means, burn me a copy of any Rutles' offering. I'll replace your discs. Although, you need to remember that Elfrem Zimbalist Jr. has his G-men following me and whatnot. We'll need to pick an off hour and a remote locale to make the drop. I'll be wearing a nondescript zoot suit and some Elton John shades. And if I see any cops the deal is off, man.

I know why I'm a no good sumn'bitch. It was made abundantly clear to me this evening. I'm now going to tell you why you're a no good sumn'bitch. Apparently you Mark Cour were the champion of the down trodden. Champion of the voiceless masses who's fears of retribution kept them lurking in cyberspace. That is to say until they found a kindred spirit in Wilkes-Barre Online. Yes Mark, to them you were a commoner willing to share your angst against the evils of the "Two Tom's of the Courthouse". Willing to speak out against the insidious deceit of the last City administration. Willing to challenge the ineptitude of the Chamber of Golf Pro's. And cite the malaise that had taken hold of our City Council.

Yepper, that was me, weren't it? And, yes, there was a time when the e-mail inbox read like a freakin' fan club. But almost immediately after the incompetant politicos were summarily dispatched to the aforementioned burning pits, the e-mail inbox started to go kinda sour on me. And that was perfectly fine with me. I never, ever wanted to be the guy who stood up to the politicos. All I wanted was to see some capable people replace the folks that were taking us backwards faster than any coal baron ever did.

Anyway, at first folks were bewildered if not angry because I had failed to castigate our new minority commissioners during their early days when they seemed to be making misstep after misstep. Now, we all knew these two guys were political neophytes when we eagerly elected them. And then less than two months into their reign, some folks wanted me to lash into them in a big way. I asked folks to give them some time to get their feet under them. And simply because I had met these guys a couple of times at political events, I was suddenly accused of being too cozy with them. If only those accusatory folks knew what they were going on about. If you asked Skrep who Mark Cour is, we'd probably shrug and say, "The janitor that got fired for stealing toilet paper from the annex?" And I imagine if Todd was at a political event tonight and saw me coming he'd probably mumble, "Oh, no. Look who's coming" under his breath, turn tail and canvass the far side of the room. Who could blame him?

Mark Cour? Isn't that the asshole with the web site?

Real cozy, heh?

With a heart as true as the living rock ( and maybe some "roll") you bravely typed the words of truth that lay repressed in the souls of the meek. They loved you for it. And you've thrown it all away because a politician came to your block party. Whereupon the ground opened up and Lucifer himself laid a hand upon your shoulder commanding that you shall worship Tom Leighton as the savior of Wilkes-Barre and all things nasty. That despite his unremarkable and ineffectual years as a City Councilman (save an unspeakable act involving a prostitute, S. Main street, and a ride to Police Headquarters) you shall sing his praises to all who shall hear your voice. Too dramatic? Maybe I read too much into that part? I will paraphrase: "Sumn'bitch!". I like you, so I am a no good sumn'bitch by proxy.

The block party? Are you kidding me? Man, there are some hilltoppers that need to get themselves unf>cked in a major hurry. What was that old Xerox that used to make the rounds? If assholes could fly this place would be an airport? Just to set the record straight, when Tom Leighton attended the '04 Thompson Street Block Party, that was his second such appearance up here at Party Central. Too much coziness for y'all? The fact is, my neighbors happen to be the friends of a couple of council chickies who shall go nameless. And in '03, said neighbors invited said council chickies. And then the next thing I knew, a certain mayoral hopeful was also invited. I had nothing to do with anything other than making cream pies for the pie-eating contest and supplying hours upon hours of loud music.

And when the big night finally arrived, I chatted with him for a few minutes, shook his hand and posed with him and his better half for a pic before scurrying back to the CD changers. He probably came out of curiosity more than anything else. Might as well go and meet that crazy f>cker that keeps badgering him into running, heyna? And before that night, I had spoken to him a grand total of one time. Let's review that encounter, shall we. I met him at a S. Wilkes-Barre property that needed some attention so that a bank closing could move forward. I'm absolutely certain that he had no clue as to who I was, but still I let right into him with, "So, you gonna run for mayor?" That was either very late '01, or early '02. And he looked at me like I was nuts. He told me he had a family and a business to run. But I would not relent. "So, you gonna run? Are ya? Are ya? We need a strong candidate with some name recognition to knock McG out of the box? Are you running? Will you seriously consider it?" I wouldn't stop. This was my one chance encounter with the guy and I was determined to make it count. He probably drove away shaking his head. Who knows? Maybe I got him to thinking that fine morning.

I can't remember who it was, but somebody ended an e-mail they sent my way with the following:

Make checks payable to: Leighton for Mayor

And I loved it, adopted it as my own and ended quite a few of my daily posts with it. It was my way of reminding the guy that I was counting on him to run, as I had been alerted to the fact that the city's politicos were well aware of my internet tomfoolery at that point in time. I have no idea if anything I said or did got him to thinking about becoming the next mayor. I really don't. Maybe the truth will be known when he pens his memoirs many years from now.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was climbing high, the birds seemed to be singing in unison, and then I met this totally deranged termite guy sporting a three-foot-long screwdriver.

Now, fast forward to the '03 edition of the annual block party. I was thrilled that he attended. I really was. And it wasn't because I was hangin' out with the next mayor or anything. I was happy that he could see what just a handful of residents on a smallish street could accomplish all by their lonesome. Imagine what we could accomplish if more folks thought like we think on this street. And being that Tom Leighton had whooped McG in the May primary, I was being my juvenile self when I posted that pic of the Leightons and myself. Hey, McG! Check me out, now!!!

"Anybody can sit in their basement and type whatever they want on their keyboard."

His words, not mine.

Way back when, I was probably a curious oddity to be studied as far as our city politicos were concerned. But once I started doing my homework in a big, big way, I honestly believed that Tom Leighton was the logical choice whereas the future of our city was concerned.

That despite his unremarkable and ineffectual years as a City Councilman (save an unspeakable act involving a prostitute, S. Main street, and a ride to Police Headquarters) you shall sing his praises to all who shall hear your voice.

You know, I am so sick of hearing the Ambrose Meletsky inspired, and oft-repeated rant about the council members having done absolutely nothing while McGroarty was spinning out of control. I challenge anyone to tell me that they could have made a difference had they sat on council during those eight years. Do it. Prove to me how utterly clueless you actually are.

As I have stated many times before, I didn't start paying close attention to all things Wilkes-Barre until very, very late in the mostly disasterous game. And Leighton sat on council for twelve years. And? Was he mostly "unremarkable and ineffectual" during the majority of those twelve years? Ya sure got me by the curlies, but I think that matters not at this point. What matters now is not his years spent on the other side of the table. What matters now is what he does as the mayor of this city. If he struggled for years in the minors, I could care less. All that matters to me now is what he can do in the major leagues. Instead of looking backwards as so many of the critics do, maybe they should dare to look forward for once. It won't hurt. Close your eyes and give it a go.

And as far as singing his f>cking praises is concerned, that's so much useless and dysfunctional bilge it probably shouldn't even be responded to at all. Bottom line, is he doing a good job, or not? Answer me that one? Is he doing a good job, or not?

Some folks need to remember that he is a politician. And politicians fully realize that closing firehouses, eliminating popular programs like the clutter cleanups (GASP!) and daring to go one full calendar year without that crutch, that city calendar are decisions that are likely to draw some serious fire from the typically ill-informed electorate. And still, he did them all the same. Why is that exactly?

Is his promise to protect the bottom line ringing true? Is he afraid to make a decision even though it might prove to be unpopular in the short run? Is he willing to stick to the five-year financial plan no matter how vocal some in opposition to the long-term plan may become, and in turn, no matter how frustrated he may become? For the first time in recent (maybe even ancient) memory, is the city being run much like a private enterprise would? Is it a bad thing to seek to show a profit at the end of the fiscal cycle? Do we really want our mayor to shred the plan and spend money we don't have every single time a group of vocal and persistent residents get together and start screaming "I want, I want, I want!" from the high heavens?

An effective leader cannot be afraid of making decisions, popular or not. And an effective leader needs to have the capability to stick to the plan even while those around him can't understand the plan, or appreciate the ultimate goal. I have in no way been singing Tom Leighton's praises of late. What I have been doing is watching the guy make correct decision after correct decision, all of which will ultimately prove even his most vocal and his harshest critics wrong. He's running the city as if it were a business. After McG's unpaid for excesses, it's exactly what Wilkes-Barre needs.


Too dramatic? Maybe I read too much into that part? I will paraphrase: "Sumn'bitch!". I like you, so I am a no good sumn'bitch by proxy.

You like me??? Well, there was a time when you wouldn't have been alone in saying such a suddenly blasphemous thing. Then again, if our two local newspapers would have made a point of publishing more letters to the editors rather than anonymous SAYSO attacks a while back, my entire contribution to Wilkes-Barre's cause would have been significantly less than what it turned out to be. But the way things turned out, I became a lightning rod for praise while we were battling the forces of ineptitude. And later on, a lightning rod for scorn only because I'm satisfied with our current leadership.

It's become obvious to me that some folks mistakenly thought that I was going to rip into any local politician that happened to come down the electoral pipe. I've read those e-mails many, many, many times over. "MARK, You sure ripped McG a new asshole. Why aren't you going after Leighton?"

Why? Because he's doing a good job, that's why.

Yep, I had my hat handed to me again this very night. A casual post wake conversation turned into a verbal free for all in which I was greatly out numbered and left with that 'I feel so dirty' look on my face. A wake, a beer, a closed firehouse, a crowd. I just gotta learn to shut my mouth and walk away. Will I ever learn?

Dude, let it be known that I like you, too. I do. But I wouldn't be too worried about people who listen to the scanner waiting and hoping for something to go wrong have to say about you, or what you happen to believe. There! I said it.

Some of your neighbors are hanging on every tone and just hoping that someone dies, or something burns to the ground, only so that they can play politics with it. In effect, they're listening to the scanner for all the wrong reasons. They're waiting and hoping with one finger on the Times Leader hotline. How sad is that?

Think about it. If you respond to a home in the Heights where someone is hanging perilously close to death, some of your neighbors will be crossing their fingers and hoping that you get there just a tad late for political purposes.

If the folks in the Heights don't like me, trust me, I'm good with that. Even during those heady days when I was roasting McGroarty's, Delaney's, Makowski's and Pizzano's hollow nuts on a regular basis; I never once wished anyone ill, or worse.

Tell the dart league turned public safety advocates that I'll be able to sleep restfully tonight no matter how many darts they toss at my effigy.

Sez f>cking me, of course.

They loved you for it.

Times change.

Nite


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