Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Derek Hunter Said What?!?!?!

So I pride myself on being a pretty laissez faire kind of guy. And I understand that talk radio is a vehicle for controversial, sometimes incendiary opinions.

And, while I agree with much of what he says from a philosophical basis, I found myself getting a bit annoyed by WBAL’s Derek Hunter and his playful critique of the Baltimore Orioles’s longtime theme song, Orioles Magic.

Hunter began his segment by asking if listeners had “heard of” the song, a staple of the Orioles 1979 and 1983 periods of glory. 

Yes, Derek, we know it well. 

He portrayed the song as a gaudy mix of 1970s polyester kitsch and a Ken Burns PBS documentary soundtrack, and then argued that it needed to be updated significantly.

Now, I get that Hunter was being deliberately provocative, and I respect that. I also know that he’s from Detroit and that – not having grown up in Baltimore – he wasn’t exposed to the song and its attendant fond memories the way home grown Orioles fans like me were.

And yes, I agree that the song is a little hokey. But Hunter is missing a valuable point: Most sports team theme songs are. 

Have you heard “Hail to the Redskins” lately? The old Colts fight song is a strictly retro production, too.  How about all those the times when Harry Carey used to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame?” 

Their kitsch is their charm.

The anachronistic nature of Orioles Magic helps some of us connect with past team traditions, glories, and memories. It serves the same cultural purpose as the statues which now dot the sports complex.

Perhaps a more modern song will emerge as the anthem of the moment, like “Who Let the Dogs Out” did for the Ravens in 2000. I hope that happens. 

But there will always been room for Orioles Magic and, for that matter, Thank God I’m a Country Boy in the Orioles’ musical universe. 

Could the song lyrics be updated to reflect the team’s 2014 roster and players? Sure. But let’s not change it too much.  Let’s celebrate the present, but we can do that and leave our past alone.

Go Os!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ehrlich and New Hampshire: Part II

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa wrote this blog piece about the Ehrlich campaign trip to New Hampshire.

You know, a bunch of us have for years been joking about a phase of the never ending Ehrlich comeback saga which featured a quixotic bid for the presidency. We even joked about poor ol’ Greg Massoni loping alongside Ehrlich across the Granite State’s landscape, playing the dutiful Sancho Panza to Ehrlich’s Don Quixote.

So, I was especially amused by this portion of Costa’s piece:

"Greg Massoni, a longtime Ehrlich confidant and political adviser who once served as Ehrlich’s gubernatorial spokesman, accompanied him from stop to stop."

So what’s happening here?

I think Ehrlich misses the political game.

I think it’s been difficult for him to watching the party nominate another gubernatorial standard bearer – one who, depending on which poll you believe, seems to be waging a competitive campaign. Since 2010, Ehrlich has asserted that, if he could not win back the governor’s mansion, no one can.

And, I think that Ehrlich and some of the people close to him dreamed up this New Hampshire jaunt as something of a consolation prize for him - kind of like giving a restless retiree something to do.

I respect Ehrlich wanting to have a national voice – every ambitious, competitive politician does. I just don’t think you need to go to New Hampshire to do it. The mere act of going there overshadows whatever message you hope to convey.

In 2010, I stated that candidate Ehrlich reminded me of Joe Louis during the final phase of his career, when he was past his prime and knocked out by Rocky Marciano. This New Hampshire trip evokes memories of Joe Louis when he was a greeter at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, now a curiosity rather than a contender.

Anyway, I’ll take a little credit for my prescience, even if it was borne out of an attempt to be funny. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bob Ehrlich's High Hopes

Yesterday, the Ray Rice story, and the seismic impact the so-called elevator video has had on the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, and the national conversation regarding domestic violence, dominated the news.
Among the overshadowed stories: This tidbit from the Washington Post about former Governor Bob Ehrlich.
According to the Post piece:
“Ehrlich is booked as the keynote speaker at a Steak Out in Nashua (New Hampshire) on Sept. 12 being hosted by the Nashua Area Republican City Committee. He is also expected to attend the New Hampshire Young Republicans Lobster Bake and Straw Poll in Laconia the following day.
“Ehrlich’s travel plans were first reported last month by WMUR-TV, the ABC affiliate in Manchester. Ehrlich could not be reached for comment Friday.”
New Hampshire, eh?
As in the state which traditionally hosts the first presidential primary election, and where Governor Martin O’Malley has been spending a lot of time in the service of his own presidential ambitions?
I heard rumblings of “big news” coming from the ex-governor’s camp – or what’s left of it -
from a former Ehrlich world colleague of mine. So far, however, no one on Team Ehrlich has publicly commented as to the purpose of the trip to the Granite State.
So before we jump to conclusions, let’s tick down all the possible reasons Ehrlich may be headed north.
1) He’s going to campaign for GOP senate nominee Scott Brown:  Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is now challenging incumbent Democratic New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Polls now have the race statistically tied. Could Ehrlich be lending support to his fellow GOP moderate? This is plausible, but one wonders why such an announcement didn’t come directly from the Brown campaign.
2) He’s performing “truth squad” activities against O’Malley:  Governor O’Malley has been aggressively stumping in New Hampshire, Iowa, and other key primary states. Did the RNC or some other partisan entity dispatch Ehrlich to the "Live Free or Die" state so he can poke holes in O’Malley’s campaign trail bombast? Again, this is plausible, but Ehrlich is perhaps not the best choice for this assignment. Democrats would likely attribute Ehrlich’s motives to sour grapes coming from a sore loser. There are at least half a dozen other GOP officials and legislators in Maryland – including Nicolee Ambrose, Kelly Schulz, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and Joe Cluster, just to name a few – who could ably perform this same assignment minus Ehrlich’s baggage.
3) Ehrlich is there to sell books: The former governor has been peddling his latest book – America: Hope for Change – at political fundraisers for GOP candidates across Maryland. Could he now be taking his book tour to other states? The book in question was released in November 2013, and, according to Amazon.com, it’s currently ranked #1,236,783. What kind of readership can he possibly expect to find outside of Maryland?

4) Ehrlich is sticking it to O’Malley:  The disdain that Bob and Kendel Ehrlich have for the man who ended Bob's political career is well documented. With O’Malley spending so much time up in New Hampshire in furtherance of his own longshot presidential hopes, could this be a stunt by the Ehrlichs to gain payback by infringing upon O'Malley's limelight? Given the level of enmity that has historically existed between these two pols, anything is possible. Nonetheless, I think O’Malley is more focused on Hillary Clinton’s plans rather than the vengeful exploits of a long-vanquished foe.  But if the Ehrlichs are doing it to have a little fun, more power to them.
6) Ehrlich is testing the waters for a possible presidential bid: This is the most fun, if also the silliest, of the options listed. As a former Republican governor of a deep blue state, Ehrlich would get some measure of attention from the media and GOP activists in New Hampshire, due largely to the as-yet undefined nature of the 2016 GOP presidential primary field. But it defies reason to assume that a pro-choice Republican who was the only governor in the country defeated for reelection in 2006, whose comeback bid in 2010 yielded an even bigger margin of defeat as well as a black voter suppression scandal, would gain any traction whatsoever.
That said, the notion of those signature blue and white Ehrlich signs dotting places like Nashua, Derry, and Dixville Notch makes me chuckle.
This New Hampshire push is part of Ehrlich’s continuing quest to stay relevant. It’s another phase of the comeback story that never ends but never seems to go anywhere, either. It’s the latest attempt to resurrect a once promising political career that some feel ended too early.
Anyway, if an Ehrlich for president bid does launch, here is one possible campaign song: