The History of News Communication in A Nutshell

September 19, 2016
William O. McCurdy I Publisher, Editor, Writer The Beeville Bee 1886-1913

William O. McCurdy I
Publisher, Editor, Writer
The Beeville Bee
1886-1913

 

Thanks to a great tip from reader, colleague, and fellow SABR member Mike Vance over the weekend, a whole idea for a modest column on the history of communication has broken open as blue and bright for us in the locally gray baseball clouds over Houston this Monday morning. Our once orange-colored Houston baseball sky has now bid us to look askance from the now slip-sliding away chances that the Astros will claim the second Wild Card spot in the upcoming AL Playoffs. With 13 games to go, the ‘Stros are now 78-71 – with three other teams ahead of them for the last spot on the dance card. The chances that the Astros will now go 11-2 to 13-0 the rest of the way, while the Blue Jays, Tigers, and Mariners all crash on the trail ahead of them, are pretty much slim to none.

Mike Vance wrote to tell me about a fellow named Julius Myers (1868-1929), who came to Texas from New York at age 14 because it was supposed to help his respiratory problems. Even in 1882, Myers could not have expected much help with easier breathing had he settled in the Houston area. He chose the further inland town of Luling for his first Texas home before moving to San Antonio in 1912 at the age of 44. Myers quickly built his public reputation as a man who rode on horseback in costume to inform the populace of current and upcoming attractions like sporting events, sales and theater attractions, and charity attractions. When too many others tried to follow Myers’ business plan, the city passed an ordinance in December 1927 against this horseback form of business “barkering”.  Friends of Myers unsuccessfully petitioned the City of San Antonio to exempt the years-deep well-liked local original from the ordinance. The City refused to take any official exemption action, but, within a year, they were “looking the other way” in 1928 as Julius Myers continued his loud-spoken street information shouts on upcoming local baseball games – as long as he ditched the horse and made his pronouncements on foot. Myers didn’t have long to enjoy his tenuous unofficial status. Due to declining health from heart disease, he passed away on September 18, 1929 at the age of 61. He was survived by his wife and four children.

Although celebrated as the “last American town crier”, Myers actually was more like early times spam on horseback. As far as we can tell, Myers wasn’t carrying the news of the day to an otherwise uninformed public. That job of hard news transmission had been taken over by the newspapers in the 19th century, and by the 1920s, radio was just waking up as an even more immediate up-to-date-in-the-moment source of hard news communication. And even these changes are fairly recent in the food-chain growth of media forms in news communication.

We are always reminded of the genius comedic mind of the great Mel Brooks when it comes to the history of communication in general. In his 1961 album routine with Carl Reiner, Brooks played a surviving 2,000-year old man who is being interviewed by Reiner on how certain customs in human history got started. Playing loose-as-a-goose, of course, with the cultural misplacement of “cave men” into the picture of how people lived two thousand years ago, Mel Brooks responded to Reiner’s question (“Did you have marriages back in the old days?”) with the following paraphrased answer”

“Of course, we had marriages back in the cave family days, but – do you know why we got married back then? If you were a guy, you needed a lady to stand behind you while you were out hunting – just to make sure a dinosaur or some other wild animal couldn’t sneak up on you and have you for lunch. – You’d say, ‘Hey, Lady, will you look behind me for a lion?’ – ‘For how long,’ she’d ask. ‘Forever,’ you’d say. – That it was it. – You were married. – That’s how the first marriages got done!”

“In fact, if you didn’t have a wife to look for big hungry animals coming up behind you back then, that in itself was a condition that led to the first ‘cry for help’ songs. All of a sudden, you’d look down and see a lion nibbling on your toes, and you’d just have to break into this song as loud as you could sing it: ‘A lion – is eating – my foot off! – Won’t somebody call a cop???’ “

In a less silly, but not nearly as funny way, new communication has sort of evolved in this way:

  1. Person to Person, Speaking, Hollering, Etc. People traveled slowly, sharing what they knew. Sometimes people were actually made to travel as messengers, carrying important news to others.  Sometimes the news even got hollered from neighbor to neighbor – and some native tribes used fire and smoke to send yes/no answers to previously defined and shared questions. Rock and tree carvings served as the first hard copy news.
  2. The Printing Press News Giddy-up. The 15th century invention of the printing press made it possible for more detailed and more clearly aimed news to be sent or left behind for discovery. The machine-printed word became both a vast improvement over hand written books, but a huge incentive for people to learn how to read.
  3. The Town Crier. As newspapers picked up steam as the cutting edge they would become by the early 19th century, the town criers began to gather steam as the principal way that the large numbers of illiterates would get their news from newsprint spoken to them on the streets from these new much higher volume printed sources. The real town criers, not the belated mobile huckster news bearers, really trickled into being in numbers from the 17th century until virtually almost all of them disappeared by the Civil War due to the vast increase in western world literacy and some relevant technological developments in the 19th century.
  4. The Telegraph/Morse Code/Local Newspaper Pipeline. By 1838, the use of Morse Code to transmit information by electrical wire changed everything forever. It now became possible to transmit news instantly, eventually reaching the goal of printing stories in local newspapers thousands of miles away the next day. Prior to the telegraph, and after, much news was still being sent by rail in pre-set type for local newspaper use in compatible printing presses.
  5. Telephone, Radio, Automobiles and Airflight. The electronic spoken word traveling in real time – and the invention of personal travel of humans at far greater speeds – both accelerate the immediacy of how soon news will reach the people – but also how soon other coverage will reach the place of breaking news. Prior to the coming of the telegraph t0 the area of South Texas, 50 miles north of Corpus Christi, my namesake grandfather used this railroad-transported “patent news” to print national and world affairs in The Beeville Bee on his 1886 George Washington Hand Press.
  6. Television and Radio Together. Television made it not only possible to see the current news by 1940s, but it was also now possible for network providers to more easily  shape public opinion by what they showed and did not show. Television also took radio out of the entertainment side of broadcasting and skewed radio’s growth toward their own versions of public opinion shaping by accident or design.
  7. The Digital Age Technology Bomb. The Internet and all of its social media variants are now doing to daily newspapers, and even to radio-TV news programs, what the wired newspapers and the rise of literacy once did to the town criers. The printed version of news stays the same all day, as the large print publishers also scramble to produce a real time dynamic presentation of the news at their own Internet websites.  TV and Radio aren’t safe as they are. Both will have to adapt to how the far more current news accessible Internet works to get the news out fast to have any hope of being taken seriously in real time as a news source on a commercial usage basis. From what we see, and for the general reasons presented here, the millennial generation does not read subscription newspapers – nor are they willing to pay for information that is now available instantly somewhere else on the Web for free.

In a nutshell, the history of news communication is the story of change itself.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Mr. Dierker’s Grandparent Stories

September 18, 2016

Thank you, Larry Dierker, for those wonderful stories about grandparents from a child’s point of view, as written by the early school age kids who provided these refreshing perspectives. It was a joy to see them this morning. All we did here at the Pecan Park Eagle was to find some graphics we felt fit in as visual enhancements to the specific exactly quoted thoughts expressed in each instance. Thank you for bringing these reminders of how beautiful it is to hear the honest words of children whose innocence has yet to be strangled by the cynical world that awaits them. All the more reason we should be mentoring our kids in critical life decision-making skills, if possible, before they get swept up in the awaiting influence cauldron of digital social media. The personal cause that you and your family have embraced for years – coaching children into the joys of reading – is still the most powerful weapon any kid may have against the vapidly stupid thoughts of peers who can barely get through reading the menu board at McDonald’s.

Thanks, Dierker Family, for all you do.

Meanwhile, readers, enjoy what Mr. Dierker brought our way this morning!

 

 

Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's.

Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people’s.

 

A grandfather is a man, & a grandmother is a lady!

A grandfather is a man, & a grandmother is a lady!

 

Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them...They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

Grandparents don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them…They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

 

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.

 

 

They shoq us and talk to us about the colours of the flowers and why we shouldn't step on cracks.

They show us and talk to us about the colours of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on cracks.

 

They don't say "Hurry up!"

They don’t say “Hurry up!”

 

Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.

Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.

 

Grandmothers wear glasses and funny underwear.

They wear glasses and funny underwear.

 

Grandpas can take their gums and teeth out.

They can take their teeth and gums out.

 

Grandparents don't have to be smart.

Grandparents don’t have to be smart.

 

Grandparents have to answer questions like, "Why isn't God married?" and "How comes dogs chase cats?"

They have to answer questions like, “Why isn’t God married?” and “How come dogs chase cats?”

 

When grandparents read to us they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over and over and over again.

When they read to us they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.

 

Everybody should try to have a grandma, especially if they don't have a television because grandmas are the only grownups who really like to spend time with us.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have a television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us.

 

Grandmas know we should have a snack before bedtime - and the say goodnight prayers with us - even when we've acted bad.

They know we should have a snack time before bedtime, and they say prayers with us and kiss us even when we’ve acted bad.

 

Grandpa is the smartest man on earth, but I don't get to see him enough to be as smart as he is.

GRANDPA IS THE SMARTEST MAN ON EARTH! HE TEACHES ME GOOD THINGS, BUT I DON’T GET TO SEE HIM ENOUGH TO BE AS SMART AS HIM!

 

It is a funny thing when our grandfather bends over sometimes. First we hear the passing of gas and then comes the bad smell. Every time it happens, he smiles and blames his dog.

It’s funny when they bend over; you hear gas leaks, and they blame their dog.”

 

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Eddie Gaedel Recognized in Congress, Sept. 9th

September 17, 2016

Tom Keefe, the founder and President of The Eddie Gaedel Society, sent me this note that little Eddie Gaedel, the vertically challenged hitter who drew a walk in his only time at bat for the St. Louis Browns back on August 19, 1951 has now been acknowledged in the Congressional Record. On September 9, 2016, Rep. Denny Heck of Spokane, Washington spoke eloquently in his behalf before Congress as an American icon whose accomplishment is both worthy of preservation, but also deserving of even higher honor. The transcript of those remarks follows below.

Now, wait a minute! – Who said our Congress isn’t busy tending to the critical needs of their constituencies?

____________________

Eddie Gaedel Batting For the St. Louis Browns Sportsman's Park, St. Louis August 19, 1951

Eddie Gaedel Batting
For the St. Louis Browns
Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis
August 19, 1951

 

CELEBRATING ‘‘EDDIE GAEDEL DAY’’

 HON. DENNY HECK

 OF WASHINGTON

 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mr. HECK of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise to call the attention of my House colleagues to one of the most unusual careers in our national pastime of baseball, one that began and ended with just one trip to the plate at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on August 19, 1951. In the bottom of the first inning, during the second game of a Sunday afternoon doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Browns sent a pinch hitter to the plate, 3′ 7′′ Eddie Gaedel, whose 65 pound weight made him the shortest and lightest player in Major League Baseball history.

Wearing the uniform of the Browns nine year old batboy, Eddie drew a walk on four straight pitches from Detroit pitcher Bob Cain, and was replaced by a pinch runner. His one day professional baseball career came to an abrupt halt several days later when American League president Will Harridge voided Gaedel’s contract. Nevertheless, his place in baseball history was preserved in the record books as one of the only players to have a perfect 1.000 on base percentage for his entire career. Eddie Gaedel’s autograph is now worth more than Babe Ruth’s, and the bat he used in the game recently sold at auction for over fifty thousand dollars.

St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck promised Eddie Gaedel immortality when he signed him to a contract to play for the Browns. In Spokane, WA, an organization works annually to help Eddie achieve the immortality he was promised. Founded in 2011 at O’Doherty Irish Grille and Pub, the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter No. 1 has launched a national campaign to make each August 19th ‘‘Eddie Gaedel Fan Appreciation Day’’ in ballparks everywhere. The club is also seeking Eddie Gaedel’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, where his jersey bearing the number 1/8 was displayed for many years before being returned to St. Louis, where it now hangs in the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. I am a proud honorary member of that organization.

Several years ago, Spokane Mayor David Condon declared August 19, ‘‘Eddie Gaedel Day’’ and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay did so this year, the sixty-fifth anniversary of Eddie Gaedel’s one day, four pitch baseball career. In addition, the St. Louis Cardinals have made their home game on Friday, September 9, ‘‘Eddie Gaedel Bobblehead Night,’’ and will give away thirty thousand of the miniature statues of baseball’s smallest player to fans who attend their home game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Of particular note is the fact that the St. Louis Browns batboy who literally gave Eddie Gaedel the shirt off his back in August of 1951 so he could go to bat, Bill DeWitt, Jr., is now principal owner of the St. Louis Cardinals. His son, Bill DeWitt III, is the team president. The DeWitt family’s involvement in professional baseball in both St. Louis and other cities stretches back over one hundred years. Bill DeWitt, Sr. sold the St. Louis Browns to Bill Veeck only weeks before Eddie came up to bat, and was serving as the team’s general manager at the time.

Several days after his one day career ended, Eddie Gaedel told a sportswriter ‘‘Any young fellow dreams of being a big leaguer—and that’s what I consider myself. I’ve got a Browns uniform with No. 1/8 on the back, a glove, and a contract. I’ve spent all my life in Chicago and never played ball, but I’ve always wanted to. I made up for it by becoming a red hot fan. I’ve followed the game for years.’’

Mr. Speaker, Eddie Gaedel was the one and only red hot fan who ever appeared in a Major League Baseball game, drawing a walk to first base and into the record books. On this sixty-fifth anniversary of his historic achievement, I join with his many fans in Spokane, St. Louis, and around the baseball world in a tip of the cap to the immortal Eddie Gaedel.

Take a walk, Eddie.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

Winning or Losing, Heaven or Hell

September 16, 2016

the-universe-will-come

 

Earlier this week, an Astros fan was forcibly ejected from Minute Maid Park after another frustrating 9th inning rally loss to the Texas Rangers.  – Question: Shouldn’t the Houston club be preparing for the inverse need – strong arm staff to force fans into MMP, the land of disappointment? Who knows? Maybe that is exactly what this bizarre ouster was all about, anyway – getting ready for the need that now seems just around the corner.

We’re not sure what this male Astros fan actually did. We were told that he sort of lost it as the Rangers and their odoriferous second baseman were converting a personal strikeout appearance at the plate into a tying-score base-running  opportunity as a safe-at-first spot due to a missed catch on strike three. The burly Astros fan started loudly yelling “F*** the RANGERS” behind the visitors’ dugout for all to hear. We are not really sure what he actually shouted because they blurred all but the first letter of the word he used in the print media. Maybe he was truly a Rangers fan, shouting something like “Follow the Rangers” or a digital savvy “Friend the Rangers” in the presence of an offended home-based Astros fan audience?

At any rate, the “Astros” fan had been on my mind all day as we approached the time for the ESPN-hosted telecast of the big football game last night between the University of Cincinnati Bearkats and our life-time treasured University of Houston Cougars, the undefeated #6 team in the land. The Cougars and Astros are my two big heartthrobs in football and baseball. Even now, at nearly age 79, I almost live and die inside with the outcomes of their seasons. I’m not actually dying from either. If their sporting outcomes did control the clock on my lifespan, I would have been dead long ago. It just feels like life or death, heaven or hell, as either team approaches a big game. And yesterday, far more than the rolling thoughts about the Astros disappearing playoff chances, my sensitivity to UH’s current unexpected 2016 season situation had been lathering my anxiety all day.

Could UH hold onto their #6 spot in the AP poll against a dangerous UC team? Could UH really parlay an undefeated season that had begun with a win over the Oklahoma Sooners into a long shot later vote into the NCAA playoff field of four teams that will qualify as competitors for the national championship? Of course, UH could get there, but not if they lost to UC. – Lose to UC and any wild hopes for any chance against the Alabama-level clubs of the college football world would be long gone from the 2016 possibility.

UH has been in my blood since they started playing football in the 1940s. I grew up within two miles of the UH campus. Quite easily, UH was tattooed into my heart long before I even took my undergraduate degree in the Cullen Auditorium at “The Zeke” on August 26, 1960. UH always was, and always will be, my Camelot.

Intellectually, between my education and my natural intuition, I have learned over the years what this is all about, but, emotionally, I have neither the desire nor the intention for changing the transformation that took place years ago when my human ego welded itself to all that UH represents to me about life, love, achieving, the pursuit of justice and equity,  and service to the community and world. It may not be everyone’s alma mater, but it definitely is my one and only mountain cougar mama in all things. For me, as your own university most certainly may be for you, UH is my spiritual version of “The Maltese Falcon.” It is – for me – “the stuff that dreams are made of.” And any really good dream carries with it the promise that it may someday come true.

Unfortunately, when winning or losing begins to take on the gravitas of the former becoming a synonym for “heaven” – and the latter picking up the polar of winning as “hell”, it makes – again, for me – watching UH play a game sometimes too painful to enjoy. Yesterday was a good example of that factor. By the late minutes of the 3td Quarter, and UH clinging to a measly 12-10 lead over UC, I decided to call up God (as I understand Him/Her to be) and ask for a review of my situation with late UH game anxiety. After a brief period, I got this answer – as this brief ongoing dialogue clearly shows:

GOD: “Upon further review, the play in your field of endeavor stands. Your commitment to love and loyalty for UH is a driving force in all you do. Without it, you wouldn’t even be watching this Thursday night game. You would ne doing what millions of others already have done. You would have used your remote control to either watch something mindless – or else – you may even have turned off the TV and found something else that called to your passions like a siren in the dark.”

TPPE: “Thanks, God, but why do I make UH football such a winning-losing/heaven-hell thing? I no longer harbor the anthropomorphic view of heaven that I was taught to believe in as a child. I simply now think that the energy that my soul has brought to life through my physical body is going to go from here to wherever You send it, once my little ride among the billions of others who have also done this trip is also completed. As for hell, I no longer believe of hell as a place. I see hell as a condition of life that we place upon ourselves for failing to learn the lessons of wisdom you place in our path. If we don’t learn from painful experience, we get to see the same kind of pain again. And, I believe, if we don’t get the lessons in a single lifetime, that you may be sending us back for additional seasoning in new lives until we get what you want us to learn through additional incarnations on earth in some form. – So what I’m asking is – is being a Cougar fan – or any kind of deep trench sports fan – one of the lessons I’m supposed to get from the way this game feels as we watch it, going into the 4th quarter?”

GOD: “I will say only two things here. The rest is up to you: (1) Pain always points to some lesson, large or small. Get the wisdom of the lesson – and that pain leaves – unless it’s one of those thumb and hammer things that is capable of great redundancy. Refuse to see the lesson – and you get to see the pain again; and (2) It is better to feel something from your everyday experience than to feel nothing at all. – Feeling is the ignition to passion – and the absence of passion for creativity or larger-than-yourself accomplishment is a most serious deficiency in the human experience.”

(It is now the opening seconds of the 4th quarter. Cincinnati has scored and now leads UH by 16-12.)

TPPE: “OH, MY GOD! WE’RE LOSING!”

GOD: “Calm yourself, my son. Everything’s going to be all right.”

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

Still of the Night Senior Thoughts

September 15, 2016

be-happy

Good friend and fellow SABR member Bob Dorrill sent me a collection of senior humor in words and pictures today. In appreciation of his gift, The Pecan Park Eagle passes on these items from the total group for your hopeful amusement and/or appreciation:

 

yippee

 

hair-express

 

sleep-exercise

 

life-exp-date

 

costco

 

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere.

 

Old age is when you have stopped growing at both ends, and have begun to grow in the middle.

Old age is when you have stopped growing at both ends, and have begun to grow in the middle.

 

cougar-ladies

 

beauty-shopper

 

You're getting old when you don't care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don't have to go along

You’re getting old when you don’t care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don’t have to go along with her.

 

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.

 

hammer

 

A man has reached old age when he is cautioned to slow down by his Doctor instead of by the police.

A man has reached old age when he is cautioned to slow down by his Doctor instead of by the police.

 

bubble-wrap

 

Thanks again, Bob. This one has been an easy, fun ride. Have a great Thursday. And don’t fall down.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

An Eagle Milestone: 2,400 Columns Since 2009

September 14, 2016

dali-time2

 

The Pecan Park Eagle began its WordPress blog site existence on July 21, 2009 with the following brief introductory column:

July 21, 2009

Goodbye Chron.Com! Hello WordPress.Com!

Good Morning Friends of My Chron.Com Blog!

After struggling all weekend with the failure of graphics over at Chron.Com for the umpteen hundredth time, I decided it was time to look for a new home for my future blogs. I will keep the old blog link at Chron.Com until I figure out what to do with two and one half years of mostly baseball and Houston history, but I will now be posting future blogs here, as I learn about and develop some skill with all the features offered by WordPress.Com.

I will continue to write about the two subjects dearest my researcher’s heart, the game of baseball and the City of Houston, but I will reserve the right also to go obliquely into cell phone rants from time to time, as these things occur.

WordPress.Com stresses the availability and quality of their support services to bloggers. All I can say is that anything they do will be an upgrade from zero assistance over at Chron.Com. WordPress.Com also allows for blog-polling, musical and video, and a wide array of graphics that weren’t available over at Chron.Com. I will have to grow into the use of these, but no matter what, I will remain writing content-based in my approach over developing ever-new proficiency in the use of special effects.

My attitude about Internet writing is identical to my view on movies. I’ll take the storytelling that is  available over at Turner Classic Movies over any of the new action or computer-generated movies that Hollywood now churns out like so many little new bunny rabbits – something like seven days a week!

For now, these few words of explanation about why I’ve changed blog sites will have to hang as my first post at WordPress.Com. Next we have to find out if I have enough trial and error moxie to even post the thing. (Only people my age worry about keeping their “moxie.” Younger people don’t even know what “moxie” is.) At any rate, look for me here again soon – when my energies are more available to focus on what I’m saying – and less tied up with the technicalities of how I say it.

Thank you for your past support and your ongoing patience. If I ever bore you to tears, or you just don’t want to receive further notice of my new blogs, let me know and I will remove you from my mailing list right away.

Regards,

Bill McCurdy

____________________

September 13, 2016

Dear Readers – The graphics failures and the robotic “political correctness” editor at Chron.Com back then were more than I could tolerate back in those brief early days we we there for a short previous life. Robotic editor? Yes. In fact, that robot was the deeper reason that “The Eagle” flew the coop from its original Chron.Com roost. I was writing a column on old TV detective shows and had I listed “Boston Blackie” among them. The robot editor would not allow me to use the word “Blackie”, suggesting that I find another less offensive term to use. I couldn’t. Boston “Whitey Polar” simply sounded awful. And it wasn’t the truth. I went back to look at what the Eagle had done in its original incarnation, but I couldn’t find any evident bearings that it ever even had existed. There was nothing there among the digital remains of yesterday. I guess it must have long ago died as unimportant to their Chron.Com archives and gone to “Atheist Heaven” –  and I say that it no disrespectful swipe at atheists everywhere. We are all bound to honestly live with what we actually believe and I respect that statement as the truth. “Atheist Heaven” simply has been my private self-talk term for years as the answer to what happens to whatever we may be watching at the moment we turn off the juice to our TV sets and go to bed. – The screen goes to dark – and whatever lived prior to our pushing the off-button on our remote – no longer exists. In our case, The Pecan Park Eagle found its born-again home and true start at WordPress. I also want to thank all of you who have followed or found us and stayed with us ever since 2009. We’ve essentially remained true to our original broad subject goals as we expressed them in our first piece here. Baseball and Houston remain our favorite subjects, with a few forays into matters of culture, philosophy, psychology, humor, and parody. – Thanks again from one of the biggest producers of “TLDR” material for Millennials.  – The Pecan Park Eagle – Regards Again, Bill McCurdy

3,000 Columns Now Seems Possible. This milestone-reminder effort is Column # 2,401 for The Pecan Park Eagle at WordPress. That weighs in at about 343 columns per year for seven years. The problem is – I don’t write or publish to run up column numbers. If I did, I would need to particularize the credit to the trusty few who have contributed to the total, and notably so, with much credit to Bill Gilbert for his monthly baseball analysis work on Astros baseball, to Darrell Pittman for his streaming supply of historical material that I have used to write columns, to Rick Bush for his “inspiration by mental association”, to President Tom Keefe for asking me to contribute my “Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” to “The Eddie Gaedel Society” as their official organizational anthem on August 19, 2015, to the great broadcaster/author Greg Lucas for his always well-connected intelligent thoughts on baseball and other sports, and to Tom Hunter of Denver for being my discreetly unofficial editor on matters of error in column facts and grammatical statement. Thanks for all those timely trips you make to the mound, Tom. I love you like the brother I never got to meet.

Writing to me is the sine qua non activity of my late life years. It is both my passion and my driver. I choose to write, but sometimes I cannot refuse to do so, whether anyone reads it or not, whether anybody likes or learns from it, or not. I’m just going to do it. I still need to look into what I can do with WorkPress to archive this load of stuff. Otherwise, it could end up in Atheist Heaven too, just as that early batch of columns did at Chron.Com. If that happens, it still won’t matter. I just hope that someone steps up in the near future to make sure that the really great thinkers and writers of history don’t get mishandled by the digital data dumpers of some near future cyberspace garbage crew.

It Ain’t Baseball, But…. If Pecan Park Eagle columns were equivalently blended with career major league hits, The Pecan Park Eagle would now be # 124 on the list at 2,401 – right behind Stuffy McInnis at # 123 with 2.405 – and just ahead of Roger Connor at #125 with 2,992.

Good hits come faster, but good columns take longer.

See you next time, if and when that happens. If it’s up to me, that probably will be tomorrow.

Regards, Once More, Bill McCurdy

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

2016: Short Attention Spans Only

September 13, 2016

ptsd

 

Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) covered all the bases last night. Since I normally don’t watch that show, I had to watch the news on this morning’s Tuesday Today Show to arrive and that implicit conclusion from NBC’s report this morning on the presumed legitimate tackling, harassment, and post-trauma eloquence of contestant Ryan Lochte for his lead role as an Olympian swimmer in that “drunk-out-of-their minds” Telephone Road style alcohol hiccup down in Rio last month. – Was it for real – or was it staged for a boost in ratings for the 15-year old show that features celebrities who never really were big stars competing for the effective title of “best ballroom dancer” among a field of contestants who rarely did much, anyway, in other public-light endeavours”?

The Show Must Go On. The former peroxide blonde, now dark-haired and straight looking Lochte capped off the surprise attack on camera to confirm that the interruption of his performance by a burly-guy ballroom tackle would not stop him. “I plan to keep on dancing,” Lochte affirmed.

What a guy! And it wasn’t like DWTS really needed any additionally bizarre brands represented among their cast of contestants. We understand that already had a female physical dwarf as one contestant and political dwarf Rick Perry, the former Texas Governor and tw0-timer presidential candidate, in the fold. Lochte already was in the mix as America’s favorite ethical dwarf before last night. After last night, Ryan Lochte may even have another shot at solid gold viewer attention.

Ain’t life grand?

Every day now, I become more convinced that sport, movie, television, and political programming ascribes to a code that reads something like the following. To get any of these minimal-attention-demanding activities moving in the direction that serves the producer’s desire for money and power, the proposed sport, entertainment, or political package must fly by all ten of these questions with “NO” answers before it is created and presented to the American Public:

  1. Will viewers be required to think too much from the very start?
  2. Will viewers have to possess long attention spans of six seconds or longer?
  3. Will this production place substance of content as more important than instant entertainment?
  4. Will PTSD sufferers be warned that this production could be further hazardous to their mental, social, and cultural health?
  5. Will the production include any music with lyrics of discernible substance beyond sexual suggestion?
  6. Will pretty girls shooting tee shirts into the crowd during the event cause any of the crowd to leave?
  7. Will it matter that some of the old men coming to the official event that sanctions tee shirt shots will now only be coming because of the tee shirt girls?
  8. Will tee shirt shooting take place during performances of Hamlet? (Of course not. Hamlet will not be seen. It could not pass our “Ten Negative Answers Required” questionnaire.)
  9. Will live audience cell phones be banned during this presentation?
  10. Ibid, Pokemon hunts?

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

Odds and Ends Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

September 11, 2016
"Have I got a coupon for that one!" ~ Peyton on Sunday Morning

“Have I got a coupon for that one!”
~ Peyton on Sunday Morning

 

Oh Brother Where Art Thou? It’s Sunday morning. That means retired icon QB Peyton Manning is either relaxing alone in his home TV man cave, mindlessly calling his brother, Eli, to come over and watch football when the latter still has a game to play – or else – he’s over at the grocery store check-out aisle # 18, cashing in a coupon, as he reminisces about how much the # 18 meant to him during his playing days with a teenage grocery checker who has no idea what he’s talking about. In either variation, singer Lionel Ritchie is playing the piano in the next room, singing plaintively about “Peyton on Sunday morning.” It’s a great fan-appeal TV commercial, except for the fact that some of us cannot remember what they are trying to sell.

 

Oscar De La Hoya (L) looked better in a 12-round losse to Floyd Maywether, Jr. in a 12-round decision loss in 2007 than he did in an 8th round TKO loss to  Manny Pacquiao in 2008.

Oscar De La Hoya (L) looked better in a 12-round loss to Floyd Maywether, Jr. in a 12-round decision loss in 2007 than he did (R) in an 8th round TKO loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2008.

 

New School and Old School Sports Objectives. As organized football on all levels tries to minimize the risk of concussions for its participants, including a prescribed recovery program for players who do experience diagnosed head trauma, the old school sport of boxing still ascribes to a 180 degree course on the objective of their one-on-one contests. That is – to match two foes who are both a dangerous potential punch away from rendering each other senselessly unconscious for the sake of fans who pay big money to watch in 100% anticipation of seeing a concussive conclusion to the fight.

 

"We may not be perfect, but we're always right!"

“We may not be perfect,
but we’re always right!”

 

Game Official Errors or Incompetence Should Not Be Allowed to Determine the Outcome of Any Sporting Contest on an Irreversible Basis. As badly as the umpires handled the 1908 Merkle Bonehead Play that set the stage for a dubiously legitimate force out at 2nd base – and after the home town Giants fans went home thinking their team had won – the wiley visiting Cubs managed to use “a” baseball to claim a technical force out at 2nd base that retroactively left the game tied at 3-3 with no hope of resumption in the chaos of player departures and thousands of fans filling the “post-game” field at the Polo Grounds. Because of all the chaos and obvious ball switching used prior to the late out call at 2nd, we have always believed that the umpires could have just left the outcome at 4-3 Giants and allowed the Cubs to take their protest to the NL President. The NL could have then affirmed the Giants win and addressed how they will deal with the “failure to touch the next base” by a runner on a play that unquestionably ends the game if the runner continues to the next base to remove the technical possibility of a force play.

Had I been the NL President in 1908, my ruling on the Merkle/Evers play would have read as follows: “Giants first base runner Fred Merkle was wrong to have not continued his run to 2nd base on the winning hit to center field that scored the winning run in a 2-1 victory for the Giants, even if he was following the trend of some runners that presume today in 1908 that completing the tag is unnecessary when it is obvious under the circumstances that he would have made it easily, had he done so. Allow me to put that presumption to bed. As long as the rules state that a runner has to reach the next base to remove the force out possibility that exists upon him until he does, and he will be subject to a force out that could be exacted upon him by an alert fielder who carries out the prescribed requirements of a force out: (1) The force out is only possible if the fielders return the actual verifiable game ball to the force out base and it is then used to either tag the bag with the ball directly – or by stepping on the base with the ball in clear possession by an official member of the defensive team prior to the advancing runner touching the base on his own. (2) If the ball is thrown out of play, or into the stands, or handled by anyone who is not a member the nine-man defensive team, or if it is not easily identifiable as the live game ball upon reaching the bag, the play shall be declared dead and the previous game outcome affirmed, even if the runner did not touch the force-out potential base. (3) On a game-ending walk-off play, and once a play is ruled dead by the defense failing to produce a force out with the verifiably still-in-play live game ball, there no longer exists any requirement for the runner bound into a force out-possibility base to actually complete the journey to the bag in question because the game is now officially concluded. (4) In yesterday’s dispute, the original game result is confirmed: New York wins over Chicago by 2-1.”

Yesterday in college football, Oklahoma State lost to Central Michigan because the referees errantly gave the latter an extra play that allowed them to pull off a “Hail Mary Plus” game-winning touchdown play on the errantly available opportunity. – Errantly unavailable? – Yes! The play that changed the game occurred one play after the game was actually over – had the refs known the rules. The refs realized their error after the game, but the NCAA upheld the undeserved CMU victory, saying that there could be no reversal. That needs to change. – Anytime a game ends with the wrong team winning due to a clear error by the officials, appropriate measures for a review and reversal of the outcome should be in place within 24 hours to reverse the game outcome, if proven that the game result was due to an official’s error in the rules that made the mistaken outcome possible.

 

Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time.

 

Forget the Idea That Sports are Divided into Seasons. Here’s a wall we baseball fans need to quit butting into with our stubborn heads. – There is no baseball season that the other two sports should not intrude upon. There was once, but that was back when baseball was the only dog in the sports fan hunt. Baseball season began with spring training in February and it lasted through the completion of the World Series in October. Until football and then basketball began to encroach their way into the competition for athletes and fans, we began to blur our thinking that baseball owned the spring and summer, football owned the fall, and basketball inherited the winter. Even in those earlier times, the facts belied the reality. – Baseball season games lapped over into the space that football was starting to play their games. Basketball was starting to play their schedules prior to the big bowl games of football, and basketball was also quietly oozing over into the spring training time of baseball’s start. By the 21st century, we had to reach June to find the end of the NBA basketball season – and football was starting their pre-season training in early August. When you get right down to it, July is about the only month of the year in which baseball is the only big sport playing official games. – In truth, there is no such thing as a season that belongs to any one sport. It’s a 12-months a year competition between all sports with each other for players, fan interest,  and commercial support. In turn, American sports in general must also compete with all the other choices we have for paying our attention and our money elsewhere. And that’s probably how it’s always been. Some of us are just slower to put aside our romantic attachment to the idea that baseball was once known, all by itself, as “America’s Pastime.”

 

Comic Kate McKinnon and Hillary Clinton - Saturday Night Live, 2016

Comic Kate McKinnon and Hillary Clinton
– Saturday Night Live, 2016

 

If You Don’t Like the Way We Select Our President Today, Are You Willing to Give Up the Current System’s Value to the Ever Growing Needs of the Major Networks and Social Media for Its Current Entertainment Value? The Clinton-Trump presidential race is little more than reality television, now taken to an all time high for its direct entertainment value to viewers – and, even more importantly, for its value to late night television shows and Saturday Night Live writers for comic material. People don’t watch Trump to hear his specific plans for anything. They watch him to hear his next outrageous comment – or, s professional comics do, to sharpen their facial speach impressions. People don’t really watch Hillary in the expectation of hearing her clarify in a credible and exonerating way what happened to the 30,000 missing government e-mails. They watch her to hear if her laughter is a spot on match for the imitation version of her that Kate McKinnon does of  Ms. Clinton on SNL.

 

thatsentertainment

 

That’s Entertainment. That’s entertainment in 2016, baby! We aren’t expecting to be convinced by anything the candidates say. If it isn’t funny – or wide open as material for serious new parody – why bother? It most probably isn’t the best way to select  the POTUS – and the next most powerful person in the world, but – what the hell – it is funny, isn’t it? Besides, who wants to sit through a two-hour TV detailed discussion of the economy, terrorism, the military, social security, heatth care, or whatever – when we can watch “The Donald” and Hillary tee off against each other in a funny-as-feathers personal insult and gaffe-speak contest?

 

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

 

 

The Wonderful Who-Dat of Odds

September 9, 2016

wizard-of-odds

The Wonderful Who-Dat of Odds

By Bill McCurdy (2016)

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the powers,
Consulting with the brain;
And my head – I’d be a scratchin’
While my thoughts are – busy hatchin’
I would nevermore complain.

 

I’d unravel ev’ry riddle

Of “be strong up the middle”
And what there is to gain.
With the thoughts I’ll be thinkin’
I could be the “Baseball Lincoln”
If I only had a brain.

 

Oh, I, – could tell you why
The wall always finds the floor

Why the talk of losers always is a bore

When playin’ bad’s – the honest core.
I could think of things I’d never thunk before,
And then I’d stop – and think some more.

 

But I’m just – an empty kettle
Who should be on his mettle

And yet I’m torn apart
Just because – I’m presumin’
I could be a – baseball human
If I only had a heart.

 

I’d be tender – I’d be gentle
And awful sentimental
Regarding baseball art
I’d be friends – with Edward Barrow
Ev’ry moment he could spare, oh
Just to find my baseball heart.

 

Picture me – in agony
The umpire blew the call
I could let it go – and never say a thing.
But that would suck – from here to spring.

 

Gotta tell him – where he blew it

If he pipes up – he can screw it

I will change his middle name.

Have a heart – you sorry bastard

Your eyesight is – clearly plastered

And your game – ain’t got a heart.

 

Just to register emotion – jealousy – devotion

And really feel the part

I could stay – young and chipper

And I’d lock it – with a zipper

With each game – a drama gripper

Once I find my baseball heart.

 

With a brain and heart inside me

I would own the nerve to tide me

And I’d live my baseball part.

Like a lion – not a mow-iss

I would dine on steaks – from cow-iss

Metaphoring baseball art.

 

(and all the fans would then sing….)

 

Oh – We’re – Off to see the Who-DAT,

The Wonderful Who-Dat of Odds!

If ever a Wizard of Math – There Was

The Who-Dat of Odds is one Because ….

 

…. Because of the Probable Things He Does

The Who-Dat of Odds – is One – Because ….

Because, Because, Because, Because, BECAUSE ….

Because of the Wonderful Things He Does!

 Oh – We’re – Off – to See the Who-Dat

THE WONDERFUL WHO-DAT OF ODDS!

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

American League Wild Card Update, 9/08/16

September 8, 2016

al_crop_north

Wild-Card_0

 

THE 2016 AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD RACE

THROUGH ALL GAMES OF WEDNESDAY, 9/07/2016:

WILD CARD TEAMS W L PCT. WC#1 WC#2 L10 GL
TORONTO BLUE JAYS 77 62 .554 LEADS  + 1.0 4-6 23
BALTIMORE ORIOLES 76 63 .547  – 1.0 LEADS 5-5 23
DETROIT TIGERS 75 64 .540  – 2.0 – 1.0 6-4 23
HOUSTON ASTROS 74 65 .532  – 3.0 – 2.0 6-4 23
NEW YORK YANKEES 73 65 .529  – 3.5 – 2.5 6-4 24
KANSAS CITY ROYALS 72 67 .518  – 5.0 – 4.0 5-5 23
SEATTLE MARINERS 71 68 .511  – 6.0 – 5.0 3-7 23

GL above = Games Left to Play

One Week Summary

Since our first AL WC Report of a week ago, September 1, 2016, the Red Sox have replaced the Blue Jays as leaders in the AL East, leaving Toronto, now in the WC#1 spot, a game behind the Red Sox for their division lead – and a game up on the Orioles, who now hold the WC#2 position by a game over Detroit. With the news that starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel has been shut down because of an injury, the Astros hopes are looking even tougher. Houston has slipped to 2.0 games back of the WC#2 spot – and 3 games in arrears for the WC#1 place with the head-to-head competition still loaded against them for another week of games against division leaders – including the nemesis power of the Texas Rangers one last time – not to mention the fact that time and the season are running out of games to play as our local “good guys” strive to survive the “good teams gauntlet” that makes it even harder to rise above all odds against them making the Playoffs.

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas