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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Taxes And Fees May Apply

car-rental

I’m fuming at this very moment.

I’m beginning to understand why people hire attorneys for auto accidents.  Dealing with insurance companies, medical, car rentals and everything affected by an accident can be very frustrating.

It’s one thing trying to deal with all this when you are at fault but when you are the victim, you would think things could go a lot easier to accommodate you.

Yes, that’s in a dream world.  Definitely not in the world we live in.

Since an accident in our family, I have had to be the investigator and attorney in dealing with the various issues.  Because someone was distracted and caused an accident, we are dealing with this weeks later.  Thankfully no one was seriously injured.

At the moment I’m upset with Enterprise.  Yes, the rental car people.  I assumed incorrectly that they had dealt with insurance companies before.

“Yes, Mr. Hooper your rental is covered through your insurance BUT we still have to charge you taxes and fees.”

Say what?  What is this?  Do they go to the same training with Verizon?  (Yes, a burn on Verizon too!)

Our policy states that we have a 30/30 limit which means we are COVERED for 30 days at $30 per day.  Nothing at all about taxes and fees in there.  Covered means covered.  There’s no fine print here folks and nothing to be confused about.

What does rental reimbursement typically cover?  It will help you pay for a rental car but only if you need the rental car because of a cover loss.  For example, if your car is damaged in an accident that’s covered by your insurance policy, your rental reimbursement coverage will typically help pay for the rental car.

Not too difficult to understand right?   Apparently some rental car places make it harder than it needs to be plus they want to sell you insurance coverage on the rental car too.

So even if you are the victim, you could still be victimized by those pesky “taxes and fees”.

 

 

 

 

 

Beauts Upset Pride for Isobel Cup

NWHLcup

In her final game as a professional athlete, Buffalo’s Brianne McLaughlin stopped 60 of 62 shots to lead the Buffalo Beauts to an upset of the heavily favored Boston Pride in the 2017 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Isobel Cup final.

Despite finishing third in the league standings, Buffalo took an early 1-0 lead just 1:44 into the game when Megan Bozek scored a goal off the post.  Emily Janiga scored later in the period to put the Beauts up 2-0 over a stunned Pride team.  Boston tried to rally from a 3-1 deficit but could only score with 4.2 seconds left.

For most of the game, the Beauts totally frustrated the Pride’s Megan Duggan, Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight and Blake Bolden who combined for 32 shots on goal.

The Beauts lost to the Pride in last year’s final and had not won consecutive games this season until the final three games.

In the semifinal games, the Pride crushed the Connecticut Whale 8-2.  The Beauts upset the New York Riveters 4-2.

With the dramatic finish, the league’s future is uncertain.  Due to financial troubles, the league ended its season a month early and reduced the Isobel Cup playoffs to single elimination.   The league began play in 2015-16.

 

 

 

Another Day On The Wheel

wheel

Unless my numbers match the lottery numbers, I am once again starting another week on the working wheel.  Most responsible adults have to do this.   I often ask jokingly, “why do we do this?” and I answer my own question with “Oh yeah, we want to eat and have this house.”

I’ll admit that it gets old.  I have done this routine for the past 35 years.  I’m closer to being eligible to retire in a few years.  I always plug in the word “eligible” in that statement because being able to retire doesn’t mean I will be able to do so.  The bills and responsibility won’t stop just because I hit that magic number.

Yes, it would be nice if my wife and I could just breakaway and go wherever we wanted whenever we wanted but aside from a large dump of cash into our bank account, it’s just simply not going to happen.

So, hi-ho, hi-ho, off to work I go.   The best thing I can do now is have a good attitude about it right?  I mean, honestly I don’t hate my job but I’m not in love with it either.  I have moments that it is fulfilling and that I feel like I am doing something important.   Although I am okay with my job, I am certainly not married to it.  There used to be a time that I was totally into my work.   I would do extra and more than what I needed to do and do you know what that got me?  Even MORE work to do and MORE expectations laid on me.  There came a time where I had to realize that if you let people do it to you, they will keep doing it until you learn to say no.  People don’t like to hear no but, you know what?  They have no problem doing it to you.  So, I adjusted my perspective and got a better balance.

I know of people who volunteer to work weekends and build up their leave balance and then brag about it.  My thought is always – “get a life”.  Bragging to me about how many hours you worked over the weekend doesn’t impress me or make me feel guilty at all.  It just shows me that you lack a proper work-life balance in your own life.

Here are some things I have learned that has helped establish a better balance:

  • Don’t be quick to volunteer for a project unless you really want to do it.  Don’t — I repeat – DON’T volunteer out of guilt or people’s expectations of you.
  • Take time off.  It is perfectly okay to take a day off and do absolutely nothing and not have a plan for your day off.
  • Take your breaks during the workday.  Don’t work through lunch.  That’s totally dumb.  Also do your best to keep your lunch break to yourself.  Going with co-workers will only tempt you to talk about work.  Get away from it.
  • Delegate your work if possible.  You don’t have to do it all yourself.  If it’s too much ASK for help.  There’s no shame in asking.
  • Don’t over-commit.  If you know a project will take a week, don’t try to be a hero and claim you can do it in two days.  Only do what you can do.
  • When you are away from work, unplug from work.  No checking emails or working off the clock.  Sure, there will be times when you are “on call” but when you aren’t – you aren’t.  Resist the temptation to peek at your emails because even if you aren’t working, you will still be thinking about work or upset about something that you will have to deal with the next day.

So, yes, it would be nice to not have to work to pay the bills but most of us do but we can still do it the right way and maintain a healthy balance.  Don’t fall into the trap of overdosing on your job but do it in the way that will make you happy.  Take care of yourself because I can assure you that your work won’t take care of you.  You are you, not what you do.

 

In A Pinch

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When I was in school, my main motivation for wearing something green on St. Patrick’s Day was to avoid being pinched.

So what’s up with this sadistic practice of being pinch if you fail to wear green on this day?

Some schools now ban pinching.  In 2010, two middle school students in Memphis were suspended for pinching too hard.  Anti-bullying and harassment rules often explicitly prohibit pinching in schools.  Where were they when I was in school???  I still got pinched many times even wearing green!   Curse Middle School days!  In my case those schools would be Temple (Ga.) and Folkston (Ga.) middle schools.

According to legend, wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns.  The mischievous fairy creatures only pinch whoever they can see.  The tradition of pinching people who don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a reminder that, at any time, a leprechaun could appear and mess with you.  So, according to this ridiculous tradition, when people pinch you for not wearing green, they are really just trying to protect you from sneaky little leprechauns who could end up doing a lot more than pinching you.  (Yeah, right….pinching because they are “looking out” for you?)  I’m glad there are so many people willing to look out for me.  Now I need a blood transfusion to bring back circulation in the pinched areas!

leprechaunThis pinching thing is entirely an American tradition that started around the 1700s.  St. Patrick’s revelers (it figures it started with a bunch of drunks) came up with the practice and story about the pesky leprechauns.  Don’t mess with a drunk leprechaun.

And why don’t you want to be seen by a leprechaun anyway?  Wouldn’t they lead you to a pot of gold or at least a bowl of Lucky Charms?

Well, I don’t know about being harassed by a leprechaun but I would suggest that you proceed with caution if you decide to “look out” for people.  Depending on where you work, you could get hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit or punched (which is much worse than being pinched in my opinion).

There are always those “special” employees who have never left middle school mentally and still might think it’s funny to pinch.  You know the ones.  They still think making bodily noises and twisting any comment into a sexual thing as being funny.  No, being pinched wasn’t funny then and it’s a little creepy now if you still hold to the tradition.  In spite of what pinchers may think, it is not open season on people who aren’t wearing green.

Okay, so to be on the safe side, I am wearing green today.  I am not in any danger of being seen by a leprechaun, although I could use that pot of gold to pay my taxes this year.  I’m really not afraid of being pinched but just because we are supposed to wear green today.  Instead of being pinched, I detest even more about being questioned repeatedly why I’m not wearing green.  That’s bad enough and I’m not even Irish!

 

 

 

 

 

Driving 101: Impatiently Distracted Drivers

driving101adriving101

I have mentioned this before in previous posts about driving in Nashville.  The two main issues I see going on with drivers are:  (1) They are impatient and (2) They are distracted.

First, let me talk about distracted driving.  My daughter was recently rear ended by another driver on an exit ramp when the driver stated she looked down to see what her son was watching on YouTube.   An example of the serious issue of distracted driving.  In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.  The distractions are texting, using the phone, eating/drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (yeah, I’ve seen this one and couldn’t believe it), using navigation systems, watching a video, adjusting audio devices in the car (oops, I’m guilty of this one).

Let’s face it, driving is boring.  But, when we are in the driver’s seat, we need to do one thing:  drive.  It only takes a glance away from the road to have an accident.  Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.  I have also noticed that talking on the phone is so very distracting even if your eyeballs are physically looking at the road.  People tend to slow down, drift into other lanes and ignore using turn signals.

Avoid distracted driving.  Pay attention to the road and the traffic conditions around you.  No one should text and drive.

Second, there is an epidemic of impatient drivers.  There is one apartment complex we pass on our commute to work where people really do not want to wait on us to pass by.  They will either roll out in front of us, causing us to brake or begin their roll before we pass by them.  People do not want to stop or wait for any reason.  If you are going too slow, they will try to push you out of their way.    If you are trying to turn, drivers behind you don’t want to slow down at all.  They want to keep their same speed regardless how sharp you need to make a turn.  It is disappointing to see people so impatient simply because they are in a rush.  It is just ridiculous how aggressive people can be.  Honking the horn doesn’t help matters.    I find it very irritating when pulling over for emergency vehicles and once they have passed, other drivers pass by too as if I didn’t need to get back on the road myself.

Impatient drivers will do some crazy and risky things on the highways.  If they are going to miss a turn or exit some will take unnecessary chances instead of going to the next exit or taking an alternate route to get to their destination.

We all have somewhere to be.  Let’s just dial it down a notch and get there safely.