Baltimore Blast Rallies To Win MASL Title

blast

Trailing 6-3 in the third quarter of Game Two of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) championship and already trailing the series 1-0 playing on Soles de Sonora’s home turf, the Blast made an amazing comeback when Adriano Dos Santos tied the game with 11 seconds left.  Juan Pereira scored the game-winning goal in overtime, 9-8, to tie the series.

The teams then played the series-deciding 15-minute mini-game where Vini Dantas clinched the winner in front of over 8,000 fans at El Centro de Usos Multiples in Mexico.

Goalkeeper William Vanzela was tough for the Blast in both games and made a huge save in the mini-game on a shot from Sole de Sonora’s Gustavo Rosales with 1:08 left.

With their second consecutive MASL title, the Blast have now won nine championships in franchise history.  After losing to Harrisburg at home in the first game of the playoffs, they went to Harrisburg and rallied from a 3-0 deficit in Game Two before winning in a mini-game.  Against the Milwaukee Wave in the Eastern Conference final, the Blast also won in a mini-game to advance to the Ron Newman Cup final.

Baltimore Blast Championships:

  • 1984:  Defeated St. Louis Steamers, 4 games to 1.
  • 2003: Defeated Milwaukee Wave 2 games to 1
  • 2004: Defeated Milwaukee Wave 3 games to 0
  • 2006: Defeated St. Louis Steamers 2 games to 1
  • 2008: Defeated Monterrey La Raza 14-11 (One-game final)
  • 2009: Defeated Rockford Rampage 13-10  (One-game final)
  • 2013: Defeated Missouri Comets, 2 games to 0
  • 2016: Defeated Soles de Sonora, 2 games to 0
  • 2017: Defeated Soles de Sonora, 2 games to 1

 

 

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It’s Time To Pay The Man

irsOne of my favorite episodes from the Andy Griffith Show was the one where Andy continued to tell Aunt Bee to call the repairman in Mount Pilot to fix the freezer.  Thinking it was too expensive, she tried to get others like Gomer to fix it cheaper.  Andy kept telling Aunt Bee to “call the man”.

Today, I have come to the day where we have to “pay the man”.   The man is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  I’m not real happy right now to pay the man.  I had our taxes figured out back in late January but was floored by the amount we owed this year.  It totally knocked me out.  I put it off hoping that something would happen to help us in paying this bill.  As of this moment, that has not happened.  It appears we will be making monthly installments to the IRS however they deem it to be.

A couple of bad financial decisions doomed us this year.  It wasn’t until we received the tax bills for those decisions that I realized the mistake and it was too late.

So I keep hearing the talk about tax breaks for the middle class.  Is this ever going to become a reality or yet more talk that politicians make to get elected?   Instead, we get taxed more and higher each year.

I will be honest with you here and tell you that I delayed in paying because I prayed about it and asked for divine help.  Something.  I wasn’t necessarily looking for a handout but extra money in some way to help.  I hate to admit this but that help never came and, as of right now, my prayer has not been answered.  I do still believe God will answer it even after I have filed the taxes and begin paying  the installments.  I’m certainly not going to criticize Him or feel stupid about praying about this.  All I can do is believe and do the next thing.  Right now the next thing is to pay the man.

The biggest lesson learned that I will share with you, if at all possible, never take money out of your retirement early.  You will suffer some serious penalties for doing so.  If you withdraw any funds before you are 59 1/2, not only will you get hit with 10% on an early distribution but the taxable amount will also be included in your taxable income.

If you take it out now, the man will get it later.

I hear that some people do actually get refunds.  I need to figure out how to do that.  Will my homeowner’s association allow me to have a couple of cows on the patio so I can get a tax write-off for agriculture?  Can I count our cat as a dependent?  She sure acts like a child and I’m always having to scoop her litter box and buy her cat food.

Taxes are extremely unpleasant.  They make our paychecks smaller and we have to fill out these ridiculous forms that we can barely understand and hope we don’t make a mistake.

I just hope the man is happy.

 

 

 

Dressy Sandals?

socks

Okay, I’m a guy so what do I know about fashion right?  But when it comes to an office dress code for “business casual” what are dressy sandals?

That was the latest debate in our office this week when one of our managers reminded everyone of the office dress code.  When reminded that business casual is slacks, collared shirts, shoes and no jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sandals or flip-flops, it stirred up folks.  In fact, when people are supposed to be working, I walked into the mailroom to hear a heated debated about sandals and flip-flops.

The lack of common sense amazes me.

If you are working in a professional office, you should look professional.  I don’t think a lot of people get what “business casual” means.

Business casual NEVER includes jeans.  I will also add leggings in here too.  If the term was simply “casual” yes, but not BUSINESS casual.  As far as sandals or flip-flops, they shouldn’t be allowed.  I worked in an office once where my neighbor wore flip-flops daily and the “flip flip flip” sound drove me crazy.  Some say that dressy sandals are okay.  What exactly are dressy sandals?

To clarify the official dress code for business casual:

Men

  • Long-sleeved shirts of conservative colors
  • Short-sleeved shirts such a polo shirts are acceptable
  • Ties are optional
  • Dockers or dressy khakis pants
  • Loafers or conservative footwear.  No athletic shoes.
  • No jeans, shorts or sweatpants

Women

  • Tailored shirts, knits and blouses with solid colors
  • Long or full short sleeves
  • No tank tops or t-shirts
  • Skirts or pants.  Skirts should reach the knee while standing.
  • No jeans or leggings
  • Opened toed shoes as long as they do not veer into sandals

In a professional business environment, you have to be dressed appropriately because you never know when you will have to meet with a client at the last minute or someone walks in the door.  I am often amazed at what people wear to the office.  I am left wondering where are the adults?  This is work, not play time or time to hit the honky tonks downtown.  Always consider the nature of your business and consider your work environment.

I worked in an office several years ago where management had to spell out every detail of clothing that could and could not be worn as business casual.  When you have to remind the staff that they can’t wear jeans with holes in them or t-shirts with suggestive messages then something is wrong.  If you are a manager and you say something is not allowed as business casual then stick to it.  Don’t let employees debate it and wear you down to change it.  If you don’t think it’s appropriate in your business setting to allow sandals or flip-flops then stick with it.

Dressy sandals?  Are you kidding me?  Don’t leave your common sense in the closet.

business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is A Gnome Teaching This Class?

gnome

My wife recently noticed a class at a local school that listed a class in “The Business of Book Publishing” which she shared with me in hopes that it would help me in trying to get my new book published.  I signed up, paid the fee, and was looking forward to any tips I could learn that would help me.

I attended the first class last night.  I won’t be going back.

The first thing that I noticed was the lack of any dress code by the instructor.  He was wearing a ratty shirt, shorts which were attached with bright red suspenders.  To complete the “instructor” wardrobe, he was wearing one red and one black garden clogs.  He looked like he had just came in from working in the garden.  If he had worn a pointy hat, I would have sworn he was a garden gnome.

Okay, so I am a little old-fashioned about this but if you are an instructor, I expect you to look presentable and, at least, look the part.  If you are teaching a class about the “business” of book publishing, shouldn’t you look business-like?

The biggest pet peeve of all for me was when he said we would wait a few minutes later for others to get there for the class.    I do not agree with waiting for people who are late for class.  What message is that sending?  These people are adults and they should be responsible for getting to class on time.  Yes, things happen and anyone can be late but don’t penalize those who are there on time to enable those who can wonder in whenever they feel like it.   If the class is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. then start at 6:00 p.m.   If people come in late then they are late.  I am paying the same amount of money for the class they are.

The “gnome” teacher then gave us his history in the publishing business but it sounded like to me that he can’t keep a job.  And this is the expert?   Maybe in gardening.

And, of course, in just about every class you are going to have the “know-it-all comment” person who sits in the front row and the “dumb question asker” who will always be off the subject and totally off-base with their questions.

One example:  “You can publish a book cheaper in China.”

Who cares?  This isn’t China.  The class has nothing to do with China. Of course, that made me what to get some Chinese food after the class.

Would you believe that one person even showed up over an hour late and then had the audacity to complain about how small the classroom was?  What is wrong with people?

The instruction was mostly about the publishing process and even the physical part of putting together a book.  These are things that a writer will not even see or think about.  Not sure how important that information was.  I just want to have my book published.  Tell me Mr. Gnome how to get a publisher to publish my book!

I called the office today and told them I was dropping the class and gave them the reasons why.  No, I didn’t call the instructor a “gnome” but I did tell them that he looked like he had just come from working in the garden and should look more presentable if he’s going to be an instructor.

I’m still sitting here shaking my head about the whole experience.  I suppose my expectations are set too high.

 

 

Obscure Sports Report

audl

The American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) took flight for its’ sixth season with 24 teams.   The Dallas Roughnecks began their title defense on Saturday when they opened with a 21-17 win over their in-state rivals, Austin Sol.  The Jacksonville Cannons scored 40 goals in their 40-23 win over the Nashville Nightwatch.   The Nightwatch made history in the game as Jesse Shofner became the first woman to score a goal in the AUDL.

Game one of the Ron Newman Cup Championship in the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) will be played on Friday night at Royal Farms Arena when the Baltimore Blast will host Soles de Sonora.  The series will shift to Hermosillo, Mexico on Sunday.   The Blast will be gunning for their second consecutive title.

Here are the current standings of the Indoor Football League (IFL):

United Conference

  • Sioux Falls Storm (5-0)
  • Wichita Falls Nighthawks (5-1)
  • Iowa Barnstormers (3-2)
  • Green Bay Blizzard (2-4)
  • Cedar Rapids Titans (1-5)

Intense Conference

  • Nebraska Danger (4-2)
  • Spokane Empire (4-2)
  • Arizona Rattlers (2-3)
  • Salt Lake Screaming Eagles (1-4)
  • Colorado Crush (1-5)

The Florida Tarpons are 2-0 in the Arena Pro Football (APF) league after defeating the Coastal Outlaws, 70-26.  They will travel to St. Louis this weekend to play the River City Raiders.

Stephen Panasuk (High Country) leads the National Arena League (NAL) in total offense with 19 touchdowns scored in three games.  The Grizzlies destroyed the Dayton Wolfpack 94-6 last weekend.  High Country (2-1) will host the Jacksonville Sharks (3-0) this Sunday.

The Fort Wayne Flite leads the Central Basketball Association (CBA) standings with a 2-0 record.   The Flite are led by Ronald Lucas III who is averaging 16 points per game.   They will host the Middle Tennessee Storm (1-2) this Sunday.

Tyler Poythress from Wilson, North Carolina is the Top Ranked Cornhole player in the world.  He finished first with 25 points in the American Cornhole Organization (ACO) Cornhole Madness tournament in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.   Poythress has won 23 and lost 9 games in Cornhole Singles.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flashback: American Professional Slow Pitch League (APSPL)

softball

In a sport where you have more people who play it than actually watch it, there was actually an attempt in the late 1970s and early 1980s to make it into a professional sports league.  The APSPL began play in 1977 with 12 teams divided into three divisions.  The Detroit Caesars posted the best record in the league (42-14) and won the APSPL World Series by sweeping the Baltimore Monuments 4-0.

The league signed a few retired Major League Baseball (MLB) players such as Norm Cash and Joe Pepitone.  Even former NFL player, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson appeared in 25 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1980.

Most games opened the inaugural season with scores in the 10-8 range but Detroit won its first game over Chicago 28-21. The Storm then gained a split of the first-day doubleheader 27-25. Former Major League player Cash hit a home run the next day, but it was practically forgotten in the face of what his less famous teammates did to Chicago pitching. In the first game of another doubleheader Bert Smith blasted four homers in four at bats to lead the Caesars to a 31-17 win. In the finale of the series Ronnie Ford hit four home runs and knocked in nine runs as Detroit won 46-24. Cash’s blow was merely one of 16 Detroit home runs in that game, and during the weekend the two teams hit a total of 84.

By the end of the weekend Ford had league-high totals of 15 hits, nine homers and 20 RBIs, while Smith went 8 for 11 with six home runs and 12 RBIs. The first-day attendance of 2,100 was encouraging—and right around the league average—but only 600 turned out to see the second-day slugfest.

Ford (Detroit) led the league in home runs and RBIs with 80 HR/201 RBI in 1978 and 43 HR/122 RBI in 1979.

The teams had some rather interesting nicknames such as the Kentucky Bourbons, Cincinnati Suds, Minnesota Goofys and Milwaukee Copper Hearth.

The league lasted longer than expected but eventually ran out of fan and financial support.  The APSPL merged with the North American Softball League (NASL) to become the United Professional Softball League (USPL) in 1981 but only last two seasons before men’s professional slo-pitch softball drifted into extinction.

Championship Game Results:

  • 1977 (APSPL) Detroit Caesars 4, Baltimore Monuments 0
  • 1978 (APSPL) Detroit Caesars 4, Minnesota Norsemen 0
  • 1979 (APSPL) Milwaukee Schlitz 5, Kentucky Bourbons 3
  • 1980 (APSPL) Rochester Express 5, Pittsburgh Hardhats 4
  • 1980 (NASL) Milwaukee Schlitz 5, Detroit Auto Kings 2
  • 1981 (UPSL) Kentucky Bourbons 5, New England Pilgrims 3
  • 1982 (UPSL) Milwaukee Schlitz 5, Detroit Softball City 1

Currently, only the women’s National Professional Fastpitch (NPF) is the only professional softball league.  The league has five teams entering into the 2017 season (Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs (Houston, TX), Texas Charge (San Marcos, TX) and USSSA Pride (Kissimmee, FL).

 

 

 

Obscure Sports Report

prochess

The Baltimore Blast will battle Soles de Sonora in the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) championship series.  Soles de Sonora punched their ticket with a thrilled 11-10 win over the San Diego Sockers in game two of the series.  The first game of the title series will be on Friday, April 7th in Baltimore, then the second game will take place in Hermosillo, Mexico on Sunday, April 9th.

The Blast will be gunning for their 8th championship trophy.  They won the title last season.  They are also 7-4 in championship finals.  Soles de Sonora are in their first final.

Wesley So (St. Louis) led his team to the championship of the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League this past Sunday as So won his first three games in the championship match to help his team build up a big lead over the Norway Gnomes and Magnus Carlsen.   So went into the championship weekend with the highest performance rating of anyone in the league and played nearly every week for his former hometown team.  Over 75,000 chess fans viewed the final online.

The Adrionack Thunder, Florida Everblades, Toledo Walleye and Colorado Eagles lead their respective division as the ECHL makes the final push toward the postseason.  Toledo leads the league with 100 points.  The Alaska Aces are currently 31-25-5 and still battling for a playoff spot to extend their existence.  Owners of the Aces have said they will fold the team after this season unless there are any buyers for the franchise.  Travel expenses have taken their toll on the teams finances.  The Aces have won three Kelly Cups.

Four teams are tied with the best record in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  The Georgia Swarm (8-4), Toronto Rock (8-5), Saskatchewan Rush (8-4) and Colorado Mammoths (8-6) are all tied at the top of the league.  Toronto handed Georgia their first loss at home in 2017 with a 12-11 overtime win.  An energetic crowd saw the first overtime game at Infinite Energy Arena.

The Central Basketball Association (CBA) opened their 2017 season as the Middle Tennessee Storm defeated the Bowling Green Hornets 119-90.  In other opening weekend games:  Indianapolis Blaze 90, Mississippi Eagles 87; Mississippi Eagles 96, Illinois Coal Miners 84; Fort Wayne Flite 101, Indianapolis Blaze 98.  The CBA is in their fifth season.  The eight-week season will conclude at the end of May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can God Talk?

Deaf womanI heard a podcast recently where the speaker made a comment to not limit God to speak in an audible voice.  I can understand the speaker’s point but can’t God still speak audibly at all? He apparently did it in the Bible but I often have wondered why He doesn’t speak that way today.  Not that I want to limit God but I would just like to hear him speak to me in a voice like we do with everyone else.

So why do people say that God doesn’t speak in an audible voice?  Here are some opinions I found when I put the question in Google:

“God really has spoken. And this Word is living and active. It is not a dead Word. He really speaks today through the inspired Scriptures.”  (John Piper)

So this explanation suggests that God has spoken in the Bible and that’s it.  Again, I understand this explanation and it’s true that God does speak through is Word but isn’t that still limiting God too?  Honestly, sometimes I think this “well God speaks through the Bible” can be a cop-out for an explanation.

From one of the most popular websites, gotquestions.org, it answers with:

“There is no biblical reason why God could not speak to a person audibly today.”  

But it goes on to add that God also can speak in other ways such an inner voice or mental impression.  Which is true but, still, at what place does a person get to where God speaks in an audible voice?

As eager as we would want God to speak in our voice, the fact is that we simply can’t force God to do it.  It is totally His choice when or if He does it.  We can’t orchestrate circumstances or manipulate situations to make it happen.

He has never spoke audibly to me although I have deeply desired for Him to do it.  At one time, I was obsessed with hearing his voice but no matter how much I wanted it to happen, it never did.  Instead it left me frustrated and confused.  I learned that I could never be good enough or spiritual enough to make it happen.  Nothing I could do was going to force God’s hand.

I mean, you would think that if people heard God’s voice that they would easily believe and never doubt Him again.  I know of a man that heard God’s voice and his life was changed but he eventually fell away.   You would assume that if someone actually heard the voice of God that they wouldn’t need anything else.  Sadly, that’s not true.  That didn’t even happen in the Bible.

So when does God speak in an audible voice to us?

I guess He would if He had a good reason to do it.  If there is a divine purpose or something that you are supposed to do, I would think that would be when He would speak if you are going to play a key role in God’s purpose.

Of course, I know you and I have met people who claim that God “speaks” to them all the time.    Yeah, I do the eye roll too.  Sure, He speaks to you about EVERYTHING.  I wouldn’t think that God would speak routinely to people.   Unfortunately I have found that these people seem to say that God speaks to them in order to manipulate people around them or to come across as some super-spiritual person.   I met one minister who said that when God speaks, it isn’t a negative word.  I guess he never read the Old Testament.

So can God speak in a real voice to us?  Absolutely He can.

He won’t waste it and won’t do it to prove anything to us.  Yes, I know you would think if He spoke that it would be easier for people to believe and proof to some people that God exists.  I don’t know why He doesn’t do that but He doesn’t seem to work in that way.

Regardless of the way God chooses to “speak” to us today, remember that He will not contradict His Word.

 

Friday Flashback:  World League of American Football

On March 24, 1991, the Barcelona Dragons defeated the New York/New Jersey Knights 19-7 in the first game of the World League of American Football (WLAF).  The WLAF was the first National Football League (NFL) supported spring football football league which not only consisted of cities in North American but also in Europe.  The league lasted for the next 16 spring seasons, with a short restructuring period from 1993-94, and served as a developmental league for the NFL.  

The teams were largely stocked by NFL teams to give younger players additional game experience and coaching.  The league was the financial support for teams in addition to the players and coaching staffs.  

The first season featured 12 teams.  They were the Birimingham Fire, Sacramento Surge, San Antonio Riders, Montreal Machine, New York/New Jersey Knights, Orlando Thunder, Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, Barcelona Dragons, Frankfurt Galaxy and London Monarchs.

The league incorporated some new ideas such as using the two-point conversion rule before the NFL officially adopted it in 1994.  Other changes were using a shorter kickoff tee, the four-point field goal from over 50 yards and numerous technical innovations such as helmet mounted cameras, one-way radios between coaches and quarterbacks.

Average game attendance throughout the league’s existence was 25,361 but the league was not the hit in the United States that was expected.  London, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Montreal surpassed early expectations and the Monarchs won the 1991 World Bowl title at Wembly Stadium in front of 61,108.

Honestly, there aren’t any names that really stand out from the players during that season.  Stan Gelbaugh (London) led the league with 2,656 passing yards.  Gelbaugh later played 13 games with the Seattle Seahawks from 1992-1996.  He was 1-11 as a starter.  Eric Wilkerson (NY/NJ) was the leading rusher with 717 yards.  

The WLAF evolved into NFL Europe for the 1998 season with all six teams located in Europe.  The Hamburg Sea Devils won the final league title on June 23, 2007 defeating the Frankfurt Galaxy 37-28.

Obscure Sports News

masl2

The Baltimore Blast return to the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) finals after edging out the Milwaukee Wave 2-1 in a series-deciding mini game.  The Blast won the first game of the series in Baltimore 8-7 in overtime on Saturday.   The Wave returned home and took control early with a 3-0 lead in the first quarter enroute to an 8-4 win to even the series.  In the mini game, Andrew Hoxie scored his fourth goal of the postseason to put the Blast up 1-0.  Milwaukee’s Marcio Leite scored late in the mini game to tie it up a 1-1.  Tony Donatelli scored the series winner with less than two minutes left.   The Blast will now await the winner between Soles de Sonora-San Diego.  Soles de Sonora leads the series 1-0.

The top three chess players in the world – Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana – have helped their teams to advance to PRO Chess League championship weekend.  The Norway Gnomes, Montreal ChessBrahs, St. Louis Arch Bishops, and Stockholm Snowballs this weekend.  The semifinal matches will be played on Saturday at 10 am PST and 1 am PST.  The finals will be played on Sunday at 10 am PST).

The Gridiron Developmental Football League (GDFL) released their preseason top ten teams.  The defending champions, Oklahoma Thunder, have the top spot followed by – Nashville (TN) Storm, Memphis (TN) Blast, Georgia Crush, Missouri Valley Pitbulls, Marvel City Tigers, Crescent City Kings, Lee County Ticats, East Alabama Predators, and Georgia Knights.  The 2017 season kicks off on May 13th.

A new arena/indoor football league kicked off last weekend.  The National Arena League (NAL) with the defending champions of last year’s American Indoor Football (AIF) Columbus (GA) Lions facing the Jacksonville Sharks from the Arena Football League (AFL) in the first week of action.   The Sharks handed the Lions their first loss since 2015.  Quarterback tommy Grady finished with 19 completions for 182 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Sharks.  Will Dukes had seven receptions for 56 yards and Mo Williams had six for 77 yards and two touchdowns.  In other games from the league:

  • High Country (NC) 62, Albany (GA) 29
  • Lehigh Valley (PA) 66, Dayton (OH) 25
  • Monterrey (Mexico) 55, Corpus Christi (TX) 12

Leonard Gates is the top ranked player in the American Darts Organization (ADO) with 398 points followed by Larry Butler who has 368 points.  Gates’ last tournament win was the Port City Open in February where he placed first in Mens 01 and Men’s Cricket events.   The ADO’s next tournament is the 31st Virginia Beach Classic this weekend.  Top prize is $37,580.