31 August 2011

Special To The Outpost

The esteemed editor-in-chief of the Billings Outpost claims that he listens to talk radio, including Rush Limbaugh, on Thursday while doing something else. Today is Wednesday so Crisp will not have had the chance to hear or see the above video clip. I doubt very much that he reads my blog but who knows when things will change. In any event I may have the opportunity to refer him here when he runs out of his usual insults.

We Celebrate Boys and Baseball in Billings

The above picture was taken after Ben Askelson's (15) walk-off home run in the bottom of the 7th of the memorable first game between Huntington Beach CA and Billings MT at this year's Little League World Series.

Joe Kusek wrote a nice little article about the Boys of Billings in the Gazette on Wednesday morning reminding us all how important baseball is to us, young and old, and to America, and perhaps to the world. His writing reminds me a little of A. Bartlett Giamatti, erstwhile Professor of English Literature, then President of Yale University, who finally found his true calling when he became President of baseball's National League in in the spring of 1986 and, sadly, died way too soon in the fall, 3 years and 5 months later, in the fall of 1989 as commissioner of Major League Baseball.
"Our character and our culture are reflected in this grand game . . . . it would not be wrong to claim for baseball a capacity to cherish individuality and inspire cohesion in a way that is a hallmark of our loftiest institutions. Nor would it be misguided to think that, however vestigial the remnants of our best hopes, we can still find, if we wish to, a moment called a game when those hopes have life, when each of us, those who are in and those who are out, has a chance to gather, in a green place around home."—Bart Giamatti, A Great and Glorious Game, from an address to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1985.

There was another article on the celebration for this coming weekend, but they forgot to tell us which day.

The online Gazette came to the rescue and told us it was on Saturday this coming Labor Day Weekend, with a parade starting at the Chamber of Commerce Building, probably around 5pm and working its way north to Dehler Park, via a circle of South Park and then north on S 29th St, cutting over to 28th or Broadway at Montana Ave and then winding up at 27th with a jaunt around the block at Dehler Park. See the map to the left.

Gates open at Dehler at 4:30pm and the motorcade arrive at approximately 5:30pm. It looks like fun. I think someone said there was going to be some fireworks.

Perhaps it would be a good time to Take Time For Paradise, as another of Giamatti's all too slim books recommends.

29 August 2011

Early and Perhaps Only Letter of President Obama Found

I had thought that one day I would get around to reading some of our current President's writing. I have now changed my mind after coming across a couple of apparently thoughtful websites here and here.

No wonder everything has been kept secret. Some of the responses to the American Thinker article are quite interesting in themselves.

If we do somehow survive and maybe even make a comeback as a country, we will surely have an example to use when we argue that our system is so strong it can put up with almost anyone as President. The other candidates I've heard used for this argument have not been totally convincing.

Geologic Information

27 August 2011

Looking For A Burger

I came across this lovely picture of what looks like a splendid burger on Motz's website. This is the first of about eight. Check it out. This one is found at Slick's in Mangum, Oklahoma. Another stop on my middle-of-the-USA jaunt this coming spring/summer. Motz's book Hamburger America shows a lot of worthwhile places in the middle of the country. I would suggest removing the onions and the tomato and eating them separately, and maybe take out some of the lettuce, add a little more butter and there you are, unless you want some toast rather than a bun.

If Our Glorious Leaders Are Trying To Force Us Commoners Toward European Socialism How Come They Are Ignoring This Danish Scientist?

From the blog Climate Realists: Who would have guessed that the Sun might be causing climate change? Shocking, I'm absolutely shocked.

26 August 2011

Excitement in Billings

I saw signs like this scattered around town, displayed by various businesses, in the newspapers almost every day.

This is the queue at Universal Athletics waiting to get their T-shirt emblazoned with Big Sky All-Stars.

25 August 2011

Askelson Wins It For Montana in 7th

The arm of Billings' Big Sky All-Stars Cole McKenzie was enough to hold the Southern Californians All-Stars from Huntington Beach scoreless for 5+ innings. The bat of Ben Askelson was enough to win the game 1-0 as he put a charge into a hanging curve in the bottom of the 7th inning to enable Billings to walk off with their 3rd win in a row. Of course, 'walk-off' is a euphemism for running and jumping and hugging and screaming. They will wait 'til Saturday and the outcome of Pennsylvania v. Southern California to play for the national championship.

24 August 2011

Water Flows Downhill

I think it was a plumber who first told me that truism. This comes from a blog entry noting that instead of an increase of 3mm/year in the sea-levels, during the past year we saw a decrease of about 5mm. something to do with the change from El Niño to La Niña. I marvel at the ability of being able to measure sea-levels to that degree of precision.

23 August 2011

Funny Tweet, Whatever That Is

@comradescott: Evidently the quake occurred on a little known fault line outside of DC called "Bush's Fault". #tcot #p2

Hockey Stick Science

21 August 2011

Montana Wins 2nd Game at LLWS, 3-1

Very exciting game. The boys from Big Sky All-Stars beat the All-Stars from LaFayette, Louisiana.

Zimmer and Askelson and Jones and McKenzie and Kieckbusch and Smith and Campbell and Kurth and Leatherberry and Maehl and MacDonald and Sulser were the stars.

Next game will be Wednesday, 24 August.

20 August 2011

Late August Farmers' Market in Billings MT

I wanted to get your attention on a lazy Saturday in somewhat late August in the Year of our Lord 2011. Everybody else is making fun of the President so I thought I would pass along some of the funnier ones I've come across.

Now then, my wife Carol and I went to downtown Billings this morning to look for some fresh corn on the cob and maybe a few other things as well. We found some beautiful corn, sweet and tender enough to eat right off the cob without cooking. We did manage to take it home and cooked it for a few minutes. Very succulent.

On the way there we passed the new Stockman's Bank Building on the corner of Broadway and 4th Ave. They are moving along as you can see to the left. The rehabilitation of the Babcock Bldg seems to be moving along as well, at least on the outside. The arcade is starting to look like it did when the the building was first built. I'm not sure what the interior on the upper floors looks like. New commercial enterprises seem to be moving in on the ground floor. The corner with the nice coffee shop now seems functional. All in all, our downtown is looking pretty good. Standing under the big sail at 2nd and Broadway I realized what a good sunscreen it is.

Our favorite piano accordion player was occupying his usual front and center position and playing his heart out. The mobile restaurants of the Asian persuasion have made a comeback. Their egg rolls are as good as ever, especially Khanthaly's. I saw a new Mexican place today but didn't have time to sample their wares. More on this later.

A number of stalls had fresh corn on the cob. We enjoyed talking to the first vendor we encountered so we bought a half-dozen cobs for $3 or 12 for $5.

The balloon man seems to have made quite a chapeau for himself.

The Special K Ranch tomatoes looked a little pale and not as healthy as usual but we bought a few anyway. They were actually fairly good when we got them home. We didn't see any other places that had tomatoes. Maybe we got there too late. The Hutterite colonies must have giant gardens as there tables were groaning from all the produce they produced. They don't seem to haggle as much as they used to, maybe we got there too early. The home-made pies tasted as good as they always do. We found some nice bratwurst sausages. Let you know how they taste the next time I am outside grilling.

Wow, would you look at those melons. And they tasted as good as they looked we found out later in the afternoon when we tried them with some ice cream. And who was that blonde checking out the melons.

Religious News from The Hinterlands

I could not resist pointing out to friends and acquaintances and family who might read this blog: in Saturday's Gazette, 20 August 2011, under the headline School district rejects groups' offers to buy land for seminary—note the neat apostrophe after the plural noun indicating possession, right?—there was a short little entry courtesy of the Associated Press, so be careful now:

In Draper Utah the school district won't be selling land next to a new high school to either the Mormon church or the religious group called Summum. The school district 'wants to save the space for future expansion. . . . The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had planned to use it for released-time religious instruction . . . Summum is a religious organization . . .[which] practices meditation and mummification.' [my emphasis in bold]
They did not say for what purpose Summum planned to use the land. Now that I think about it for a few minutes, isn't 'meditation and mummification' what many of us ordinary Christians do? Not all we do but at least a part, right? It seems to me there is some connection between prayer and meditation, and of course, embalming and mummification seem connected as well. Maybe I'm missing something.

18 August 2011

Defend Our Friends

I find it hard to believe but AP is actually reporting Israeli casualties. I would guess there will be a response from our friends in Israel. Will we help them?

Watching Little League Baseball

While watching the big game between Billings' Big Sky All-Stars and the All-Stars from Rapid City, SD
I thought for a few moments in between innings: I wonder what was behind this 85 pitch count limit and have there been any changes in bats what with a successful lawsuit here in Montana, the result of a catastrophic head injury to a pitcher from Miles City up in Helena by a ball batted with a metal bat, at the American Legion level, i.e. advanced high school level, some 8 or 9 years ago.

I did a little Googling and found that metal bats are still being used by the Little League, and that there have been no scientific studies showing that metal bats are more dangerous than wooden bats. This was reported in the Wall Street Journal back in April of this year. I had forgotten that I had read it but Mr Google kindly reminded me of a previous blog of mine. Here is some info on bats from earlier this year. Following some of the leads will get you more info.

And then back to sore arms, pitch counts, curve balls. I found a very nice summary of material coming from the University of North Carolina showing that curve balls didn't seem anymore dangerous than a lot of other practices for Little Leaguers. It was primarily the innings thrown and the number of pitches thrown that led to an increase in later injuries. The study looked fairly sturdily constructed to me. After the game I started thinking about the arm troubles of Dave McNally and wondered how many pitches he had thrown in Legion games back in the late 50s?

Big Sky All-Stars vs. Rapid City All-Stars

I was a few minutes late getting to ESPN's televised game between Billings' Big Sky All Stars and a similar team from Rapid City, South Dakota because my dental hygienist and dentist, still she and he respectively, despite all the ministrations of the feminists, not having seen me for a few years were understandably worried what with my declivitous decline in dental health, and thus they offered all sorts of options for making things better. I readily agreed and then hurried home to think about the options and watch the opening game for the USA teams at the Little League World Series in Williamsport PA.

The nephew of my general surgeon, Mckenzie, pitched 5 innings for Billings, and looked pretty good, allowing 4 runs, two of them home runs by a big 13 yr old, Petrey from Rapid City. The final inning was pitched by one of our own big guys from Billings, 3rd baseman Jones, who got three outs without difficulty including a fly-out to centerfield for the final out by Mr Petrey. Final score was 6-4.

Our boys looked very taut but still relaxed on defense and fortunately knew where the strike zone was in the critical inning where they scored 5 runs with the aid of only two hits, a difficult pop-fly into no-man's land in short center by Kieckebusch and a solid double to the wall by pitcher McKenzie.

I was in such a hurry to leave the dentist's office that I forgot my sunglasses and my prized Yomiuri Giants baseball cap. My dentist was kind enough to drop them off at my home. That sealed the deal as far as I was concerned. I am down for a root canal next week, after the LLWS is over.

16 August 2011

Is Telling The Truth Again and Again Like Repeating The Big Lie?

This comes from a conservative teacher, yes Virginia, there really are such people. It seems redundant but then there are a lot of people who, when confronted with data that goes against their deeply held prejudices, simply ignore it. Who know, maybe they will see it and ask their own sources what about that graph of revenues coming in to the Federal government.

15 August 2011

In Vino Veritas?

Here is a start on the explanation that many of us ordinary folks have been looking for. Mr Happ apparently has no advanced degrees but then he makes a lot of common-sense. I think we should keep our eyes and ears focused on this guy. He says the earth is not quite warm enough and if we should be worried about anything having to do with climate, maybe we should be worried about cooling, not warming.

Coming To A Cabela's Near You?

I wonder why we need a special interest group—the National Rifle Association—whose main function is to protect a part of our Constitution. Don't all of our elected officials swear to protect the Constitution? These sound like they mean business but how would you practice with them?

14 August 2011

Was Our Debt Ceiling Drama Sinful?

David Crisp writes an editorial in his weekly Billings' OutPost entitled "Wasn't America's debt ceiling debacle a sin?" He asserts that journalists are poorly equipped—because they lack the vocabulary—to deal with moral questions but then goes on to discuss the problem anyway and arrive at what seems to be an unreasonable conclusion. It seems to me that Crisp starts the argument already having decided on which side he comes down, especially when he calls the whole drama a "debacle." I say drama, but perhaps theatre is a better word because the lines sounded familiar and we kind of knew the ending we were heading toward.

This reminds me of a trip I took a few years ago accompanied by 600 or so college students. One of the professors in an English Lit course gradually tired of the students being reticent to discuss the readings and thus called on a clever girl in the front row, slinking down as low as she could get. The girl's response was "Hey, I'm a chemistry major and we don't have to know these things." I'm not sure she was unprepared, and she certainly was not incapable of talking about the story we were reading but the coarse laughter her response got, from the adults especially, but even from some of her classmates in on the conspiracy, made all of us wince with embarrassment.

Editor Crisp cites the German Lutheran pastor, theologian and ethicist Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "I must choose, but I cannot make that choice in security," when he tells Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian, why he must go back to Germany even when he knows that many if not most of his fellow Germans had embraced a great evil, and that his speaking and acting against that evil may lead to his death.

Deciding what is right or wrong is what all of us do every day, usually in small ways, and what we expect our elected officials to do, sometimes in big ways. Those of us schooled in orthodox Christianity say that in addition to ordinary  errors, we sometimes do or say sinful things. And of course we have that tendency in our DNA, called Original Sin when we are trying to explain mysterious things to our children. I suspect it is actually easier to make a reasonable decision about right and wrong when you are not in the middle of it, though you may not have the authority to speak at a later time to the survivors of that great evil. I thought that is what Bonhoefer was saying, rather than because we have the luxury of making decisions in relative security we make them poorly, which is the conclusion that Crisp comes to.

The only sin I can see in this whole affair is allowing our debt to climb so high that we might not be able to pay it off in a reasonable fashion. I'm sure that both Democrats and Republicans were guilty in this respect, though perhaps you could argue that the rapid recent increase in the debt, if you had the chance to do something about it and don't, and not allow your fellow citizens to do something about it either might be considered stubborn, perhaps due to invincible ignorance or arrogance or both, but I don't see that as anything more than the ordinary sin that we all have.

The serious political stuff is difficult enough to follow, whatever your vantage point, and the silly stuff keeps getting in one's eyes and mind, making it all that much more difficult. Saint Jerome is supposed to have said "When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting." Which is, I think, what Bonhoefer was saying in other ways.

12 August 2011

5 Wins In A Row; 3 Home Runs In A Row

15 hits and 10 Mustang runs were enough to beat the Great Falls Voyagers last night, 10-6. Pitchers and hitters, fielders and umpires, all did fairly well. The hitting thing that stood out was the 6 run explosion in the Mustang 4th. Buckley hit another long home run over the left field fence with two on (13), followed by Maddox hitting one over the right field fence (10), and then Waldrop followed with another over the right field fence (3).

A hat-trick? No, that is the term used when a player scores 3 goals in hockey. How about home run trio? Hmm, have to think on that for awhile. In any event, unusual and exciting and probably depressing for the Great Falls pitchers.

Speaking of pitchers, our bullpen looked good. Starting pitcher Guillon did fairly well for 4 innings, though he was wild as usual. Contreras was hurt as he took a line drive off one of his shins and was unable to continue in the 5th inning. Dan Jensen came on and according to the box score got the win but I'm not sure how that came about as I thought the pitcher of record in the inning in which the winning runs scored was the winner. Wait a minute, maybe the 6th run in the 9th inning negated the starter's efforts? Yes, that is the probable explanation. I'm not quite trustful of the scorer as he tends to score hits more easily than a lot of us would. Maybe our expectations are too high.

The Mustangs are now tied with the Voyagers and the Osprey for first place in the Northern Division, with 7 wins and 5 losses each, though since Missoula won the first half the Voyagers are the critical opponents to stay ahead of to make the playoffs. In the Southern Division the Casper Ghosts and the Ogden Raptors seem to have changed uniforms in the 2nd half of the season. Probably has something to do with promotions and demotions of players.

We are all worried that Sean Buckley is looking too good in the batting department. He might just be needed higher up in the organization.

11 August 2011

Who Would Have Thought?: Driftwood On Ice

Check this out from Climate Realists. Isn't it fun to run into things you had no idea existed? Like unicorns?

From My Email and Common Sense Reasoning

From Ann Coulter in Human Events, "The Sun Never Sets On The British Welfare System"—for those of you too young to remember, the title is an allusion to a common, though even then ironic assertion by the school teachers on both sides of the Atlantic among us that "the sun never sets on the British Empire"—which was frequently heard when studying geography because of all the pink countries on the globe; and from Anthony M. Daniels, writing with the pen name of Theodore Dalrymple in the City Journal, "British Degeneracy on Parade," we have an attempt to explain what is going on in the country formerly referred to as Great Britain.

They both say, in much more nuanced terms, this is what you get after from a welfare state—"The Nazi war machine couldn't break the British, but the modern welfare state has." I saw that up close in the early 70s. When I timidly pointed out the tendency for everyone to be 'fiddling' in one way or another, upper, middle and lower classes, it was not well received by my fellow officers in the Royal Air Force.

10 August 2011

Blue's Barbecue in the Heights

I heard a short audio advertisement at Dehler Park a couple of times as they thanked the sponsors of the Legion Regional tournament that was going on this past weekend. I heard Bob the Announcer say only "Blue's Barbecue, corner of Hilltop and Main," which is about all he said as their contribution must have been smaller than the rest of them. I had not heard of these good folks before so I resolved to give them a try. The picture above is from the entrance on Hilltop, looking toward the Cenex station and on the far right you can just barely see their sign below the Cenex sign. Over the hill is Main St, running perpendicularly to Hilltop, of course.

Though I am geographically challenged at times, especially in the Heights because I don't get there very often, I thought I could find this place fairly easily. Well, I came up Main, keeping a sharp lookout for a sign. I was in the middle lane and should have been in the left lane to make a left turn. I had to double back and finally guessed to turn up Hilltop from Main and viola there it was: Near the Corner of Hilltop and Main, Behind the Stockman Bank, and turn into the Cenex Station, and there you are.

I checked Billings' version of UrbanSpoon before I went and found this interesting blogsite with information on Blue's Barbecue. The pictures are pretty good. Their pulled pork sandwich looked a lot like my shredded beef sandwich today. They start in Canada and come down to the States and on to Chicago if you are interested in a road trip.

As I mentioned I tried the shredded beef with one side and a drink special for $6. Seemed to be a fair price, especially considering the size of the sandwich and the side of baked beans with a surprising amount of pork in it. The last was excellent. The sandwich was a little bland so I put some "mild" sauce on it but that didn't help, so I screwed up my courage and added some "hot" sauce which came out just right, sort of "medium."

I have always been wary ever since arriving in Billings over 30 years ago and trying the "medium" sauce at CJs: bread and water quickly please. Blue's Barbecue should probably increase the spice in the meat a little to start with and maybe add an "extra-hot" sauce on the side for those who like that sort of thing. This is only my first trip there. I would have to check out some of their other offerings before making any certain pronouncements. The rest of the stuff looks good and their menu is fairly simple, both for eating in and for taking out. I am going back for more.

This was fairly early, a little after 11am, the tables were filled by the time I left. The customers varied from us refined old folks down to hungry working stiffs.

09 August 2011

Pictures from Paradise

The above was captured while watching some baseball during the past long weekend. It appears to be that of a Grandfather doing video-photography of his grandchild at Billings' Dehler Park, where the Northwest Regional Legion Baseball Tournament was on-going this past weekend.

There were a number of strong teams in the tournament as you might expect from having eight state champions from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the closer and usually fairly strong teams from Washington and Oregon, together with Idaho, Wyoming, and two teams from Billings, Montana.The reason we have two teams from Billings was because they traditionally have a host team from the same state that is hosting the Regional tournament in addition to the state champion. This year that happened to be the two teams from Billings as they finished 1-2 at their state tournament in Butte.

That is the state flag of Wyoming above with the outline of a buffalo, atop the dugout the team used for this game, a nice touch along with US flags scattered around and the singing of God Bless America and the national anthem. And that is the state flag of Hawaii with the Union jack in the upper left corner, a remnant to remind the rest of us of their history before they became a state.

The Wyoming state Legion baseball champion came from Cheyenne Post #6 to take part in the Regional competition. Unfortunately, the way the tournament is set up some teams have to lose twice in a row; this year both Wyoming and Alaska went home after two losses, which is why it is called a double-elimination tournament, probably a partial recognition that baseball is a different than all other forms of sport, perhaps with the exception of cricket, with different patterns and rhythms and even different satisfactions for both players and those who watch them.

If you are curious about the philosophy behind this game you might be interested in reading the collected baseball works of A. Bartlett Giamatti, the late professor of Renaissance English Literature and then the President of Yale University followed by a three year tour as President of the National League, and then a way too short tenure as Major League Baseball Commisioner. The titles are Take Time for Paradise and A Great and Glorious Game. Books like these are not written about football or basketball or, Thank Heavens, volleyball. Check him out, his resume alone is worth reading.

To the right and slightly up is a shot of the beer tent at Dehler for the Legion tournament, far out along the left field line, where they were stationed owing to orders from on high. Apparently, selling beer and hard lemonade at places other than Montana has had some problems.

Above is a picture of part of the celebrations after Hawaii won the Northwest Regional championship, remaining undefeated after 5 games. That is Sumi Pruett, second from the right, pitcher and first baseman for the Waipahu Marauders, holding his award for being the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. He threw a shutout against the Scarlets for the championship and hit a grand-slam home run as well as pitching some very good innings against one of the lower-ranked teams.

Below is a part of paradise after the games are over. The Mustangs will be back soon. And the boys of spring will return next year. And the Regional Tournament will be back at this same location next August.

08 August 2011

Waipahu Marauders Win Regional Legion Baseball Championship

The Scarlets or Royals have not been this close to a National Legion Tournament since the days of Dave McNally around forty years ago. There was only one team standing in the way of a trip to Shelby NC and that was Waipahu, Hawaii and their tournament MVP Kawika Pruett, good hitting first baseman and their #1 pitcher. He shut out the Scarlets today, 7-0, scattering 4 hits, and helped his cause by belting a grand-slam home run off Joe Barta. At the ceremony they said he allowed only 6 hits in 14 innings, which qualifies for a dominant pitcher in my book.

I asked yesterday if the Scarlets had some pitchers to take on these guys from Hawaii. They did, at least for one game, but they had no hitters to speak of except Ty Gilmore. Six or 7 runs is a reasonable pitcher's good job in Legion baseball. The batters are expected to get that many and a few more. They reverted to the high fly ball to centerfield boredom which nearly lost the opening game, and nearly lost the game with the Royals, except for a couple of high flies that were long enough to be home runs by Tolstedt and Gilmore.

The regional tournament will be in Billings next year as well. It will be interesting to see if the Scarlets can scare up enough reasonable competition in the regular season to hone their skills: in batting against good pitchers; and in bunting and base-running when needed, i.e. close low-run games. According to the souvenir scorebook they will have 11 players graduating, though how many of those are still eligible is not clear from the data in the book.

Talking about next year reminds me that it seemed like the Scarlets were a little short-handed at the end of the season, and probably other teams as well. I thought the usual number was 18. I understand the need for taking advantage of any football scholarships on offer but I would think that some judicious compromise at the coach level could work these problems out before they become critical. I can't believe that a few days missing calisthenics in early August is going to make that much of a difference, even if you are going to Georgia Tech or Nebraska.

If worse comes to worst you could always be red-shirted and get some of your basic studies in before you start knocking heads against better players than you've seen before. It seems to me that if worser comes to the worst you could choose your players at the beginning of the season depending on who is available at the end of the season. Just some bargaining chips in case they are necessary.

The young men from Hawaii should be fun to watch at the Legion World Series in North Carolina. I wouldn't be surprised if they go all the way.

[Update:]  17 Aug 2011: I didn't see anything in the Gazette on the Legion World Series held in Shelby NC the following week. The news gathered from the Gaston Gazette had Brooklawn NJ beating Waipahu, Hawaii 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth in the opening round. Most of the game was pitched by Chevas Numata, the big guy who won the first game against the Scarlets here in the Regional. Other opening day games included Eden Prairie, the eventual winner of the World Series, losing big to Midland MI; Tupelo MS topping Las Vegas NV 6-3; and Gaffney SC beating Bedford NH 12-1. Waipahu lost badly the following day with Sumi Pruett, the big guy who handled the Scarlets with ease in the final of the Regional here in Billings doing the pitching, and thus went home quickly, sadder but wiser I'm sure. Through the usual twists and turns of a double elimination tournament Eden Prairie and Tupelo, each with a loss,  faced off in the championship game and Eden Prairie won 5-4. Wait 'til next year when we hope the Scarlets and Royals will be hosting at the State tournament and representing the Montana state champs, just like this year.

07 August 2011

Excitement at Dehler: Only Waipahu and Billings Scarlets Still Standing

This has been an interesting Regional American Legion Baseball Tournament. As far as I can remember we have only had three regional tournaments since 1980, one in the early 80s when Jeff Ballard—before he went on to star at Stanford and pitch for the Baltimore Orioles—got beat in extra innings by a Washington bloop hit over the 2nd baseman's—or maybe the shortstop's head—and the Scarlets were so depressed they got beat by Helena the next morning, leaving way too quickly; and another sometime in the 90s about which I have no memory, and then this one.

This tournament, directed by Joe Studiner, was unusual in that both AA teams here in Billings were playing, the Scarlets as the state champion and the Royals coming in 2nd at the state tournament became the host team. The Royals drew Salem Oregon in the first round and lost but won their 2nd game. I forget who they sent home, either Alaska or Wyoming, both often going two and out.

The seeding was very favorable for the Scarlets, drawing Boise Idaho the first round, which they won 3-1, with Joe Barta pitching a 5 hit game and Max Tolstedt hitting a 3 run homer to win it.

See the picture above and left as his teammates welcome him home.

Then they faced Waipahu, Hawaii: the Scarlet pitching was unfortunately not up to par, their fielding wasn't so good, and their running game was even worse. They lost 11-10 when the pitcher Girard, after a gutsy performance for most of the game, threw a sacrifice bunt over the first baseman's glove.

That put the Scarlets and the Royals to face each other the next day in a loser-out contest. Appar-ently this was the first time this has happened in Billings or in a Regional tournament.

Brady Muller of the Scarlets looked good on the mound and Ty Gilmore won it in the bottom of the 9th with his first home run of the season. One wonders if Muller should have been pitching against Hawaii. Yes, I know, this is Monday morning quarterbacking. It was difficult to see any really dominant pitchers in this tournament, thus allowing the coaches to play hunches and try to save their better pitchers for the bigger games to come. So anyway, the Scarlets sent the Royals packing which was probably a just result, reflecting the big difference between the teams this past year.

I almost forgot the big storm that cancelled a couple of games and interrupted the Royals ousting some team in the early loser-out part of the tourney. So everything was a little strange as the games were delayed, and the scoreboard didn't work very well, omitting the balls and strikes. I forgot how much we depend on knowing the count on nearly every pitch. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised at unusual things happening at Dehler, with all the unusual weather we have been having this spring and summer.

There were good crowds at all the games the Scarlets and Royals played, especially the one where they played each other, maybe as many as 2000-2500. I saw a lot of alumni in the crowds too. See above right.

Salem Oregon—more accurately the Withnell Dodgers—surprised Bellingham Washington on the 2nd day but then they lost to Waipahu early today, 8-2, and then got walloped by our Scarlets 25-5, yes, twenty-five! I said. They called it, mercifully, at the end of 7 innings as Salem simply had no pitchers left. All the balls that were high flies in the earlier games for the Scarlets were now line drives to the deepest parts of Dehler Park. Ty Gilmore hit his 2nd home run in as many days and Brady Muller also hit a home run. Miles Berkram almost cranked one out as he tripled in two runs.

Some of the fans from Oregon were a little miffed because they thought the Scarlets were purposely embarrassing them. There is a 10 run rule but it doesn't come into effect until after 7 innings. You can't run out the clock like they do in high school football or simply toss it around like they do in basketball.

The late game today was won by Hawaii, 6-5, a come-from-behind victory in the 9th inning. They remain undefeated for the Scarlets to take them on again on Monday. Bellingham Washington was feeling fairly confident going into the 9th inning, leading 5-3. Their pitcher, Hayden Knight, had done a very creditable job the whole night, holding the Hawaiians down to three runs. When he walked the first batter of the inning his coach decided to promptly replace him with another who walked several more. A few errors and a fielder's choice, and a third pitcher came in with the game tied now: with one out a long fly to center scored the winning run. I don't think they got a hit at all in the ninth inning. Bellingham fans had some discouraging words to say as we all left pondering the matchup the next day, and Hawaii celebrated in their own fashion. This was an exciting game and so is the tournament thus far. The Hawaiians remain surprisingly calm and relaxed. Last year they came in 2nd at Las Vegas, who knows, this year they may go all the way with their rhythmic cheerleading letting off the pressure.

Can the Scarlets come up with the pitchers to win two game on Monday? Watch this space.

This tournament thus far has featured some outstanding umpires. The three man crew is a very good idea. Perhaps we should adopt it for the regular season games. I am guessing they don't teach the boys to hit down on the ball these days as there seem to be an unusual number of high fly balls to the outfield. They do allow the fielders to catch up with them, sometimes in spectacular fashion.

Another good idea was the placing of the state flags on their respective dugouts. It sent all of us to Wikipedia to look them up, especially the Hawaiian state flag with its small Union Jack. We all learned a little history.

04 August 2011

Tolstedt Powers Scarlets To Win 3-1

Something unusual for American Legion baseball, at least this year: the pitchers for both sides were dominant in the 4 pm game on Opening Day of the Northwest Regional Legion Tournament here at Dehler Park. Billings' Scarlets played the Boise Gems. Joe Barta started and finished for the Scarlets, getting stronger as he went deeper into the game. He was tagged for a home run but that was all as he gave up only 5 scattered hits.

The big blow for Billings came in the 6th inning when after a couple of hits, Max Tolstedt whacked a hanging curve over the left field fence. That brought the score to 3-1 and there it remained. I wonder if the other teams in the tournament noted the problems the Scarlets had in hitting a pitcher throwing relatively slowly?

02 August 2011

Cartoons Are The Answer

This guy is very funny. And he tells a good story. See more of his genius here.

Graphs Are Great

This is called 'cutting' the budget by Our Dear Leader and other Bozos on the Left. This was picked up from the very useful website Electric City Weblog. Dave budge mentions other assessments of what has just happened in Washington DC.

A Useful Tool

Have you had your colon scoped recently? Here is a useful tool for home inspectors, exterminators and insurance adjusters. The only thing they left off this list is DIY colonoscopists. Found while walking around CostCo. You're welcome.

Celtic Princesses Entertained By Mustang Loss 10-8

Just getting started in the second half of the season, the Mustangs have yet to find their pitching shoes, at least in this Monday night game.

These regularly attending red-heads, aka Celtic princesses, to the left, were not exactly ecstatic in the early part of the game though they remained hopeful after the 4th inning when it looked like the batters might pick up the slack and the pitchers seemed to be able to string a few outs together.

Although the batters woke up in the 4th inning with 6 straight hits—3 doubles, a triple and a Vicioso home run, oh, and an 'excuse-me' single—and 5 runs, their colleagues on the mound had already allowed 10 runs for the Osprey, including a grand-slam home run.

More Celtic princesses below and to the right. That is how the game ended. Two explosions by the Osprey lead to 9 runs, which the Mustangs came close to matching with their own single 5 run explosion and multiple single scores, but they fizzled in the 8th and went down quietly in the ninth. Final score 10-8.

The lineup tonight featured some new names and others moved from the bench to the field. The problem as always when you are near the bottom of the feeding chain is that the good players get moved up to higher status leagues and teams and they get replaced by guys that are still learning the game.

By the way, talking about learning the game reminds me that Robert Maddox is looking very slick at first base. He may have persuaded base umpire Bayer into an inning-ending double play with a quick push off the bag. Though Buckley, Waldrop and Maddox may provide some heroics, we needed some Lohman and Read and Poulk magic to finish. Those guys have been moved up to Bakersfield and Dayton.

I almost forgot my usual comment on the quality of umpiring as they are learning too. Mr Park, hiding in plain view behind home plate, showed his usual 'moveable feast' of a strike zone, so much so that Mr Kelly could not restrain himself to mutters. The ever alert ears of Mr Park heard some of these comments and therefore Mr Kelly was ejected. Certain discerning fans kept reminding Mr Park that he shouldn't give up his day job for the rest of the game.

01 August 2011

A Q-Tip

More accurately, Q-Tips, nicely focused in the above picture. For Adrienne's brand of humor on steroids see her blog here: Wow, what a funny lady.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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