Sunday, April 22, 2012

Softball, Stop Signs and Blunts

Chilly start to the softball season this morning. Grey day, with a stiff breeze. More of a wind, I’d say, that kept temperatures in the 50’s. Surely not a day to unveil my standard pitching attire of shorts and high sweat socks, though I did have them on beneath my baseball pants. Started to spritz around the 4th inning, not enough to even consider being a nuisance or a reason to call the game. 

Legged out an infield hit. In my prime I might have outrun another infield chopper, but those are days I can only talk about, barely remember. Didn’t strike out anyone; only walked one batter. All in all, not a bad day on the mound, especially since I returned home without injury. Slathering up with he-man doses of Mineral Ice on my lower back, Achilles tendons and knees before heading off to the ball field surely helped. 

The team’s a work in progress. They gave maximum effort. Now all we need to work on is some fundamentals and skill improvement. We hit decently, even socked a home run. But we ran ourselves out of two rallies. It’s a good thing I’ve been in this rebuilding situation before. Much easier to take a 23-3 shellacking when you’re just out to have a good time, and not get hurt.

Dmitri Krioukov, a Russian researcher and Web data analysis professor in California, has become an Internet darling for posting a paper on how to beat a traffic ticket like the one he received for allegedly rolling through a stop sign (

Big deal. I managed the same feat more than 33 years ago, way before the Internet was widely known. Even more difficult was winning over my wife’s participation in my ultimate defense. As I wrote in January 2010, a policeman in the hamlet of Pine Bush, NY, outside Middletown, claimed I rolled through a stop sign, which Gilda and I denied to no avail. To fight the ticket we had to return six weeks later for night court. Gilda was a willing witness for the defense, but quickly changed her mind when she discovered I had miscalculated the court date. We showed up a day early. She was in no mood to leave work early the next day and trek 60 miles up north to testify in my behalf. I reeeeally had to do some major groveling to get Gilda to go back to Pine Bush with me the next night.

Even so, her demeanor was not friendly. She had the comportment of a hostile witness, but she was all I had. Without her it would be my word against the cop’s. Even though I extracted from him an admission that he was stationed 300 yards, three football fields!, away from the stop sign I allegedly “rolled through,” it was still just the two of us squaring off, and in most jurisdictions that’s bad news for a defendant. 

After Gilda testified, the judge asked if the policeman had a witness. He did. It was the chief of police, who was riding with him that night. OK, where was he?, the judge asked. On patrol, came the reply, followed swiftly by good, old-fashioned country justice—two against one, case dismissed. 

Take that, Dmitri!

Last Wednesday, Thomas L. Friedman devoted his column in the NY Times to a call for Michael Bloomberg to mount an independent run for president, not because he would win, but rather because it would influence Democrats and Republicans to soften their rigid stances and meld their positions into more centrist ones that would benefit the country. “By taking part in the televised debates,” Friedman wrote, “he could impose a dose of reality on the election that would otherwise be missing. Congress would have to take note” (

Let me be blunt about this: Friedman must have been smoking something (maybe a blunt) when he wrote that. How anyone could think the GOP and its Tea Party wing will soften their radical platform clearly has not been paying attention to politics over the last three years. To expect them to change should they win the White House or both houses of Congress is delusional. One of the main criticisms of Barack Obama by his supporters has been his misguided belief he could work with the Republicans, that he failed to make use of the majorities he helped sweep into office in 2008, that he capitulated time and again to conservative demands. 

No, Mr. Friedman, a third party candidacy from a progressive thinker like Bloomberg would only hurt Obama by siphoning off votes from Independents and some Democrats. It could be argued that Ralph Nader’s Quixotic runs for the presidency gave us two terms of George W. Bush. I’m sure Michael Bloomberg has an ego at least as large as Nader’s, but I’m also of the opinion the mayor of New York City is not so enamored of himself that he would purposely tip an election to Republicans who reject almost all of his social and economic beliefs.