Baltimore

#baltimore #bigtruckday “Ho!!”

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“Dad, feel free to make a long story long” …

I had a great conversation about Baltimore, touched off by watching the Barry Levinson-directed, 30 For 30 documentary about the Baltimore Colts Marching Band called “The Band That Would Never Die”. I would call it required reading for sports fans, Baltimoreans and those who want to understand Baltimoreans.

I have to say I remember living through that era in time and a couple of things come to mind. I remember being nonchalant, thinking: The “Indianapolis Colts?”: “That’ll never stick!” Wrong. Isn’t this illegal? Wrong. Wait, teams don’t move! Wrong. (I remember checking the late history of baseball in the exodus of teams from the east—Dodgers, Giants, Athletics, etc. and being like, “Oh!” So, once again, wrong. Once the NFL finds out, won’t this be overturned? Wrong. The Colts in my lifetime up until then were a heap of futility. Never put into my own personal memory was the team that beat The New York Giants in the 1958 Championship, or later, ever seemed to be reasonably competitive. I paid attention—apparently just after the Unitas era. Despite the consistently terrible showings, I did think that they were my team to root for though, regardless of how embarrassing they really were.

The Colts’ actual leaving Baltimore opened me up to a whole new plane of thinking about the role of sports, when suddenly without a team that I cared for, I was left without a team at all, a point that Steve Bisciotti, the current Baltimore Ravens’ owner made in the documentary. But for me, being in those formative teen years, that twelve-year absence was an open barn door away from football where, while I could never say I don’t like it or follow it, I’ve always done so with a measured distance. I understand how much of a business it really is because it happened to me then.

That documentary was a launchpad for my Dad and I sharing different points of view on sports where we went back and forth on a number of different tangential conversation related to sport. One of those came under the topic of how often really talented players don’t recognize the true value of their playing time, whether it is through wasting their time, money or talent in some way or another. Just good conversation.

This ultimately is a main arena for bonding with my Dad, because while we were never professional in our given sports (him, basketball and me, baseball), sports, and an understanding of its dynamics have become the staging ground for an understanding of life for us. To me being an athlete is important beyond what/where one has played because it is a mentality that men and women can adopt and reflect on aspects in life.

Those conversations turn into conversations about how we relate to the world. How great a player might have been in any given moment in time is a real thing that cannot be bottled or just shown on tape and fully understood. I can’t show my kid a tape of Walter Payton and have that be the description of what one the best running backs I ever got to see meant, not only to football, but to his team. There’s a scene in Spike Lee’s movie “He Got Game” where the father (Denzel Washington) explains to his son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) why he was given the name “Jesus” and it turns out to not be because of religion.

It’s because he was named after Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and in the movie there is a really emotional scene where Denzel’s character discusses having witnessed Earl play (just like my Dad), when he was really in his moment, and to the extent possible, I could only say the moment was like that with emotion poured into the description of Earl’s playing.

My Dad says “… he had a crossover that made it look like he was gliding on the floor …” He went on to say, “Well, to make a long story short …” And this moment caps it all, when I said to him: “Feel free to make a long story long.”

In my Dad’s mind, Earl had a specific moment (playing with the Bullets) and when he signed with the Knicks subsequently it just wasn’t the same. The thing being to appreciate that present moment and appreciate its realness.

Enough Already Complaining About Off-Season Sports

“Personally, I got about ten solid reasons why I’ve tried to stop playing sports in the off-season (which, in this case, is football): I say this because:

a) there are too many sports to worry about when that sport ain’t on …
b) while I recognize the value of the off-season in football (learned through getting boos in the Franchise Edition of Madden, oh-so-long ago last I played, can’t we just wait for them to actually win or lose?
c) not appreciating the off-season is exhausting …
d) takes away from my ability to appreciate Kobe possibly missing the playoffs (or his team’s subsequent impending first-round exit from the playoffs)
e) Formula 1
f) UEFA Champions League
g) CONCACAF
h) real-life
i) teaching the kid to hit without using a tee by increasing confidence and pitching at the bat (this is actually “a” I think) …
j) impending arrival of the Orioles and if that’s not enough, the frenzy around how dominating the Yankees won’t be, which for me is sometimes enough.”

Recent post highlighting the complaints that local football fans have about the local football team’s roster moves and free agency losses and gains and in the end, isn’t a bit much? Isn’t it like political coverage on the weekend after an election?

Wearing A Helmet or Not, It’s Not Brain Surgery …

Or… Well maybe it would be.

Right now, in Maryland, a proposal in in the legislature that would make riding a bicycle without a helmet illegal. While from the outside, landlubbers might be surprised that there is opposition to a law supporting cycling, coming from some cyclists themselves, but sure enough. Some of the state’s bicycle advocacy groups are opposing the law as evidenced in the editorial section of The Baltimore Sun, published February 17, 2013.

Cycling groups have said that forcing helmets may limit the amounts of cyclists who would ride, thereby bringing less “critical mass” and thus making cycling less safe. On the other hand, a sponsor of the bill–among them, Delegate Maggie McIntosh believes that as a rider, she has witnessed the evidence of an injury that could have been prevented by use of a helmet.

Personally, I have a hard time believing that anyone who rides out on the open road, and can do anything to mitigate injury would not want to avoid such by doing anything especially, something as small as using a helmet in the prospect that it would avoid an injury to one’s head. I’ve had a fall at thirty miles an hour where I felt the helmet bounce off the ground. I got up (relatively) happy that wasn’t my noggin wasn’t getting a bouncing … Relatively… I had a driver to curse out. Seriously. Anyone riding in a hostile environment like Baltimore City or many other big cities should be keenly aware of the dangers, with eyes wide open.

Legislation may not fill all the holes in the adhesion to such values to an issue such as cycling safety. On the other hand, while a “critical mass” of cyclists is certainly an element helpful in changing the culture of drivers’ sense of entitlement to all of the road surfaces–often stoking their subsequent intolerance of cyclists–groups of cyclists can be and are sometimes are hit, and mere numbers is no guarantee of safety. In fact, it’s deceptive to feel safe in a group when the experience of getting run over or falling is very personal, no matter how many people are out there.

Focusing on more consistent enforcement of speeders(which Baltimore doesn’t do), enforcement of the three-foot “halo” around cyclists (a spanking new law that is not greatly promoted or consistently enforced), better road surfaces (hellooo?) and increased co-habitation education ($!) would be a more comprehensive way to create a safer environment for riders. In my view, if you build that they will come.

If I could get a guarantee of those elements for the small price of wearing a helmet, I’d consider it a good deal.

Ray Lewis: The Trump Card

Ray Lewis -- King Card

I knew when my Mom called me twice during the AFC Playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens last Saturday, the game had hit a chord with the wide populace of Baltimore. My Mom barely watches football and she called to tell me that the game was a “miracle” for the Ravens. Well, I was certainly impressed with their spirited play tying and beating the Broncos on the road, but I kinda thought it was more like a blown coverage at the worst possible moment for Denver allowing for the Flacco bomb to reach paydirt. That said, an amazing game.

Whatever one wants to call it: miracle, heart, never-say-die etc., Ray Lewis has always been able to elevate his game — and inspire the team to do so at the right time. That is truly an aspect of his greatness, in that he inspires it in others. Thus, even as good as he has been throughout his career, he was always been more than the sum of his parts. And the team has been more than the sum of a stat-sheet. A factor often difficult to account for when betting against he Ravens.

Argonne Drive Repair Makes Me Question If The City’s Left Hand Knows What The Right Is Doing.

Independently, I don’t frown on road repair, but I can’t help but think about the scene in the Soprano’s when Tony’s crew scored the trucking contract and the road repair contract, then laughed to themselves about how overloading the trucks will lead to sooner than average road repairs, thereby fleecing the fictitious New Jersey town.

Not that this is a wholesale fleecing. But the Baltimore DOT is less than responsive to neighborhood concerns. Some years back, on behalf of the neighborhood we asked for a traffic study because Argonne Drive (a 25mph residential street) had a seemingly high amount of accidents and presumably speeding. Not to mention signs indicate that it has weight restrictions which don’t seem to be enforced. We never had a tactile response despite their claims to respond in 180 days maximum. The did put a speed “indicator” – no telling if you went through it at, say, 70 whether there were any repercussions.

Couple those problems with the oft-written about sewer line problems in Baltimore City. From what I read, the sewer lines break apart piece by piece and the city is keeping up with them (or trying to) as they break. Argonne Drive’s broke last year in spectacular fashion (in places).

The pipes presumably were rebuilt, tearing up street that had been repaved in recent memory. With the potholes that inevitably spring as the seasons re-warm, I have to wonder at the re-paving without DOT’s completion/publication of a traffic study, enforcement of speeding or overweight restrictions, the ensuing lack of traffic controls, the presumably continuing sewer problems (we keep thinking they are done), the high water table issue on Westview which leads to a stream that runs to the sewers after lots of rainfull, and the logic of repaving the road before the winter, it all leaves me wondering whether there is an understanding of the overall situation.

I mean, leave the street in the post-sewer line fix and at least it’s not like you’re spending good money after bad and those doing fifty in a twenty-five pay the “suspension tax” when they hit the bumps or tell me where I can get in on the action.