Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A tear slipped from the corner of my right eye and trickled down my cheek.

The Twins are going to the playoffs. Right away, the eastern seaboard reverberated with the notion that they'll never beat the Yankees, but that isn't important right now.

What is important is that no fewer than 17 former New Britain Rock Cats were in that dugout when the Twins completed the improbable accomplishment of winning the division despite trailing by three games with four to play.

This gives you an idea of what kind of ballplayers we've seen go through New Britain Stadium over the years. They come out of Double-A, often unheralded like a Matt Tolbert or a Nick Blackburn, but they have that certain something that enables then to compete with the All-Star contingents that only gobs of cash can put together.

For the last 10 years, I've been with the Twins in spring training, watching what they do from low Class A to the major leagues to make baseball pundits sing the praises of how fundamentally sound they are. "They play baseball the Twins way," is what I hear from the scouts and opposing managers who visit us in New Britain.

And let me say this about the Detroit Tigers. I worked for the Tigers organization from 1986-88 and have nothing but good feelings for the organization. Their pitching coach, Rick Knapp, was the Twins' minor league pitching coordinator for years and we became good friends. They played their hearts out, battling adversity all year, and anybody who suggests they're chokers can only be classified as ignorant casual fans.

Now, let's get back to the Yankees. Everybody's talking about sweeps and easy passage into the ALCS, but let's look at it this way.

If two people go computer shopping, one with $500 and one with $10,000, who's going to get the better equipment?

If one army has senior officers who have been through many campaigns and the other is a ragtag collection of guys who the week before were plowing their fields, who's going to win the war?

Hence, if one team can sort through baseball's most developed talent and get whoever they want while the other is bringing up players who started the season in the Eastern League, who should win?

So the Yankees are going to win? Probably, but aren't they supposed to? On the other hand, they have to play the games, and you know what? The British did not win the Revolutionary War.

Whether the Twins win or lose, they're playing with house money. And for my boys who have passed through New Britain, enjoy the ride.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Events like the Plainville Hall of Fame Induction Dinner are like beautiful tropical islands amid tempestuous seas.

People in atendance begin to realize how therapeutical it is to get together, break bread and recall old times. Not just fun, not just a delicious dinner. Downright therapeutical.

Where else can one of Plainville's most esteemed educational leaders spin a yarn about how a former junior varsity basketball coach held his pregame meeting while sitting in a toilet stall and smoking a cigarette? Nowadays, such an act would be blasphemy, a reason for dismissal, the subject of parental diatribes. On Saturday night, it elicited howls of delight from a packed house at Nuchie's in Forestville.

Yes, I'm thrilled to say that those attending the dinner are best advised to check their political correctness at the door. Of course, if you ask me, it should be chucked in the nearby Pequabuck River or tied to the adjacent railroad tracks in the hope for a train to roll by real soon.

To witness the toll PC takes, one just needed to stroll the room where the Great Organizer Byron J. Treado III put together an Italian cocktail hour, and hear the stories told by coaches who have been, or are being, worn down by rules that some folks heed but would never abide by if roles were reversed.

It's so funny how putting the microphone in some hands brings about such different presentations and deep-seated personality quirks. One inductee kind of rambled a bit during his speech. You could hear the din rising among the seat-squirming celebrants, slowly but steadily, as the person went through his copious notes, including a biographical study of his presenter.

Those who came after him, ever aware of the crowd's reaction, kept it short and sweet. Hey, I'm all for late-night revelry but it was nigh to 11 p.m. when the party broke up.

But all in all, you come to ascertain that Plainville is fortunate. I've said it before, not every town has such an elaborate program to honor the past. Not every town has an individual like Byron Treado equipped to make the personal sacrifices necessary to stage such an event, even while his professional life goes through a valley or two.

I look at Plainville as a throwback. It reminds me of my hometown Hamden the way it was when I was growing up, the way it never could be again. I look at my adopted hometown of Farmington and realize that people like Byron Treado don't pop up in every neighborhood. Some people have visions that evaporate after a night's sleep like dew on a summer's morn.

Treado is a man of action and Plainville wouldn't have the same connotation without him. He stepped down Saturday after 10 years, but I agree with him that those following him will keep it going. There are enough good people in all our towns to take the leadership but scant view who will steadfastly hold onto their dreams and fight through adversity to make them reality.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Whoa, whoa. The world's going too fast, spinning toward a vortex of extinction, making all those biblical tales like the Tower of Babel and Noah's Ark assume 21st cenury significance.

Namecalling. Suggestive sex talk. Pornography. Drugs. Swindles. Exploitation of children. Terrible TV shows and malodorous movies that alter weak minds. Rampant arrogance. Twitter. Facebook. I, me, mine. Bloggers. Fakes. Frauds. Charlatans. Taking advantage of the elderly.

Make my penis bigger and my belly smaller where the only thing that changes size is some poultroon's pocketbook and my wallet. I think it was Maria Muldaur who sang, "It ain't the meat it;'s the motion, that makes your momma want to rock." Danged if you weren't right, Maria.

Blindly send me your social security number and bank account information and get your share of a Nigerian fortune. Hey, why don't they give the largess to those emaciated Nigerian kids you always see on TV, except 35 percent of any donation would probably goes to the CEO's overstuffed salary. Hey, the Nigerians can cancel each other out and both of them can stop pestering me.

"Now I don't know but I've been told, it's hard to run with the weight of gold."

The internet is such a tremendous advancement and is used for so many great reasons. The greatest reasons, like WebMD and other sites that offer to improve the human condition. But the human being is so terribly flawed it gets used for all these wrong reasons.

"We're goin' to hell in a bucket, baby, but at least we're enjoyin' the ride."

Liberals hate conservatives so much they say George Bush blew up the towers. Conservatives hate liberals so much that they want our very own president to fail. Hey, whether you voted for him or not, he represents liberty and freedom, and where the frig would you be without that. If George Washington and Abe Lincoln could return to the living, they'd wish they were dead again in 5 minutes.

Road rage. The interminable hustle of big cities. I-phones, so all the insanity that corners you in your office can follow you around.

So what's the elixir for all this madness? Slow down. No, I mean slowwwww dowwwwwn.

Leave the NFL for one Sunday and take a nice ride out in the country. Find a good spot to marvel in Mother Nature's annual autumn splendor.

"Let it be known, there is a fountain, that was not made by the hands of men."

Take a bite out of a macoun apple right off the tree, revel in its snap and let the juice roll down your chin.

"Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul."

Tell someboy you love them ... and really mean it. Feel your heart warming if they tell you that they love you, too. Watch Ken Burns' magnificent National Parks documentary and allow his blend of sights and sounds get you to thinking about what's really important.

Get a therapeutic massage. Go to the gym and work out. Take a hike near a mountain stream. Drink some ice cold spring water. Do something nice for somebody. Help a child understand the difference between right and wrong.

I don't care what the rest of the world does. I'm going to mellow out by doing a lot of these things and more. Maybe I'll live longer, but why I'd want to the way things are going, I'm not sure that's such a great idea either.

"Comes a time when the blind man takes your hand says: Don't you see? Got to make it somehow on the dreams you still believe. Don't give it up, you've got an empty cup only love can fill."