Balancing My Baseball Loyalties.

bb-banner-jpegThere’s no doubt that the 2016 World Series is laden with historic significance.

1948-cleveland-indians-world-series-champions-patchThis year’s Fall Classic pits two of baseball’s legendary hard luck franchises: The Cleveland Indians and The Chicago Cubs. When you consider how long it’s been since the Indians and Cubs have won a World Series, it’s 1948 against 1908 – with the Cubs suffering the longest title drought.

The 2016 World Series will put an end to one of baseball’s two most notorious curses: the Curse of Colavito and the Curse of the Billy Goat.

And, for me, it will be an exquisitely personal experience.

cubs-goat-logoI was born and raised on the West Side of Cleveland — but I went to college and lived and worked on Chicago’s North Side for 15 years. I married my wife, a Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan, in Chicago. One of our daughters was born there.

For years, I’ve been able to root for my American League heroes, The Indians – while also cheering for my favorite National League team, The Cubs. The likelihood that my dual baseball loyalties would be tested in World Series was remote. Like worrying about getting hit by lightning.

But now, the baseball gods have flung their bolts – and lightning has struck.

images-washingtonpost-comSo, I must make my choice.

Baseball and boyhood are inextricable. Some of my earliest memories involve the Cleveland Indians. I remember when I was 3-5 years old, looking at the front page of The Cleveland Plain Dealer to see if the Tribe had won or lost.

cw2My dad, who was a fine cartoonist himself, enjoyed showing me the small cartoon Indian that appeared on The Plain Dealer’s front page the day after each game.

If the Indians won, that tiny cartoon Indian brave looked upbeat – with a feather in his headdress. (Two feathers for two victories in a doubleheader.)

cw-3If they lost, the little Indian would have a black eye – or, in this case, a sore bottom from getting his butt kicked.

620x686xphoto-8-montage-927x1024-png-pagespeed-ic-sjzucr-yqiAnd in the case of a split doubleheader, he might sport one black eye for the loss – while triumphantly holding a scalp to indicate the win.

Little boys – and The Plain Dealer — had no clue about political correctness in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

95dd7d0bb910ca4fb7b02e83d49fc367I have vivid memories of frequent trips with my father and brother to the cavernous Municipal Stadium to cheer on those 1960’s Indians teams, starring my favorite player, Rocky Colavito. (Who should be in the Hall of Fame.) I was only two years old in 1960 when Rocky was sent to Detroit in a trade that many fans believed cursed the team – but I sure remember Rocky’s glorious return to Cleveland in 1965.

It didn’t hurt that Rocco “Rocky” Colavito was Italian. My mom is Italian – and as a member of St. Rocco’s Church and school – my world was decidedly Italian-centric.

davalilloHeck, I also took pride in the fact that Rocky’s teammate Vic Davalillo was also Italian. (He wasn’t. Vic was Venezuelan.)

In all the seasons that I followed The Indians before I went off to college in Chicago, there were more lowlights than highlights. But I saw young Craig Nettles, Dennis Eckersley, Luis Tiant, Sudden Sam McDowell, Buddy Bell, Gaylord Perry and so many others compete in a Tribe uniform.

bat-dayThe Indians has a Straight A Tickets program – and boy, did I make sure to score those straight A’s. On Bat Day, they gave you a real bat. Can you imagine handing 40,000 kids a real bat in downtown Cleveland – or any city – today?

So, the Indians are in my DNA. They’re my hometown team. My boyhood idols.

big-cubbieBut I love The Cubs, too.

Soon after arriving at Northwestern University in 1976, I started watching Cubs games on WGN – with Jack Brickhouse calling the games. We didn’t get every Indians game on TV in Cleveland, and I got hooked on watching the Cubs every day.

600f51b17cdc6a926d68e07a04b60144In 1984, I started going to Wrigley Field on a regular basis. After all those years of watching baseball in the drafty vastness of Municipal Stadium, I was charmed by the intimacy of The Friendly Confines. And I fell in love with the team, led by the bat and glove of the glorious Ryne Sandberg.

Of course, those 1984 Cubs broke my heart when they blew a two-game lead to lose the NL pennant to Steve Garvey and the San Diego Padres. Having my heart broken by the Cubs only intensified a growing bond with my fellow Cubs fans and the people of the Windy City’s North Side. I knew from birth what it was to support a lovable baseball loser. Now I supported two of them.

Since then, I enjoyed the Indians’ resurgence in the late 1990’s – and endured their losses in the 1995 and ‘97 World Series. (But at least we got there, right?)

And, as a Cubs fan, I anguished along with everybody else in Chicago when Steve Bartman got in the way of that fateful pop foul.

artbble-pos-16tbb2-1154-gold-sThese highs and lows only reinforced the needlessness of worrying about divided loyalties in an Indians vs. Cubs World Series. Such an incredible thing was never going to happen.

But now, it has happened.

And, as I said, baseball and boyhood are inextricable.

So, I’m rooting for my Cleveland Indians in this Series.

kris_bryant-topps-061015As for the Cubbies, they have so much youth, talent, pitching, managerial wisdom and front office brilliance that I expect them to be World Series favorites for the next decade.

I’ll say what we Cubs fans have said since 1908.

Wait ‘til next year.

I’ll be rooting for a Cubs victory then.

Now, let’s play ball!


Filed under History, Sports

Meet Ms. Maura & The Misters

14682156_350597921939875_4434002577358694647_o0001366218_10Save the date, folks: December 10, 2016!

aaeaaqaaaaaaaat3aaaajdvkn2nhmzriltjlmmitndm2ns1hztuzltfingu2mtfmzddkzgThose of you who have heard my daughter Maura sing know that she’s got a soulful, bluesy, powerhouse instrument. And now, she’s put together a talented band that compliments and amplifies her unique and groovy vocals.

Get ready for Ms. Maura & The Misters.

On Saturday, December 10, 2016, Ms. Maura & The Misters will make their public debut at Ms. Maura’s 1st Annual Holiday Happening at The Offbeat bar in Highland Park.

unnamedMs. Maura & The Misters will be rocking original bluesy-funky-soulful tunes for hip, hot and happy holiday grooving.

12485844_1015392298531197_3521549748487510897_oThere’s no better way to kick off the festive season than to party with Ms. Maura and her musical friends – including my youngest daughter and her band The Eva B. Ross Foundation.

Maura assures me that this is just the first event in Ms. Maura’s Swinging Shindigs quarterly kitschy party series.

14720587_351716295161371_1571858259162046950_nShe’ll also be celebrating the release of Ms. Maura & The Mister’s first single — an original holiday tune serenading the lack of snowmen in L.A.

Don your jingle bells and bring your friends to Ms. Maura’s 1st Annual Holiday Happening.

If you’re coming, let us know at this link.


The Offbeat

6316 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

There’s plenty of parking in the lot across the street.

On the Musical Menu:

Eva B. Ross Foundation – 8pm

Ms. Maura & The Misters – 9 pm

DJ spinning vintage soul – 10 pm

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Filed under Art, Beauty, Music, rock & roll

Time To Step Down, Mike Pence.

A vendor flies the confederate flag prior to a Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump rally in Pittsburgh, June 11, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk - RTX2FOT5


It’s actually long past time for beleaguered GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence to repudiate his great orange running mate’s toxic campaign.

trump-pence-03But now that Donald Trump sees the writing on the wall (and the polls), his destructive attack on the integrity of the American election process itself leaves his Veep pick with no other way to save his dignity, credibility and reputation than to jettison the flame-throwing narcissistic demagogue at the top of the ticket.

For the good of our democracy, Pence must dump Trump.


donald-trump-victim__optMike Pence says he’s a follower of Jesus Christ. What is there in the four Gospels that give any indication that the Prince of Peace would approve of Donald J. Trump? Not a thing. Re-read the Sermon on the Mount – especially the Beatitudes. Nowhere does Jesus say, “Blessed are the whining sore losers, for theirs is the right to torch the landscape in their wake.”

nov-9-lat-concedes-if-300In 1960, when Richard Nixon lost by the thinnest of whiskers to John F. Kennedy, even the man who would become infamous for campaign “dirty tricks” and Watergate respected the vote of the American people, despite unproven claims of election fraud in Illinois and West Virginia.

In 2000, when Al Gore lost by a few hanging Florida chads (and one dubious Supreme Court decision) to George W. Bush, Gore went before the cameras after the Florida recount was halted to put the nation first and acknowledge the legitimacy of his defeat.

maxresdefaultAnd now comes Donald Trump. He’s not even waiting for his eventual (and much deserved) defeat to cast doubt on the fairness of our American democracy.

Trump incites his angry followers to show up at the polls to watch out for the mass voter fraud he assures them will take place. Especially in those “inner cities” filled with, well, you know, those people…

And then there’s all those illegal immigrants Trump claims are pouring across our border to vote for Hillary. Because, of course, tens of thousands of desperate Central Americans are surely lining up to risk their lives and fortunes on a dangerous and expensive U.S. border crossing so they can put Hillary in the White House. (If you believe that, I have a bankrupt casino I’d like to sell you.)

16-trump-rally-w710-h473-2xTrump indicts the dishonest media for its part in rigging the election against him. Really? Is that what FOX, CNN and MSNBC were doing for a solid year when they covered just about every one of his rallies from start to finish? When they would put Hillary or Bernie Sanders in a little box in the corner of the frame while The Donald held court full screen? The truth is that the cable news networks were major enablers of Trump’s candidacy.

Yet even though all of Trump’s talk of a rigged election is absolute crap – millions of his followers believe him.

ct-trump-pence-huppke-20160715And that’s why Mike Pence – who surely knows better – must take a stand by standing down.

If Mike Pence doesn’t repudiate Trump’s claims of a rigged election in the strongest terms — and quit the Trump ticket now — he will have forfeited his credibility as a future candidate in our American democracy.

Trump is calling for torches and pitchforks, Governor Pence.

What would Jesus do?

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Calling Trump On His Lies: Better Late Than Never!

trump-lies-jpegFinally. Finally.

The mainstream media is starting to point out something about Donald Trump that’s been clear from the moment he formally announced his campaign for the Presidency on June 16, 2015: the man is a serial liar.

donald-trumpThose of us who have spent too much of the past year screaming at our television as a prostrate press allowed The Donald to spew lies, damned lies and bogus statistics are heartened to see that fact-checking Trump has recently become the latest journalistic fad.

Hopefully, this fact-checking fad will catch on like Pokémon Go.

And what was the final straw that aroused the media to finally challenge Trump’s truthiness?

Was it when the nation’s print journalists, television anchors, reporters and pundits realized there was actually a chance that an unqualified, incurious, racist, thin-skinned demagogue could wind up with access to the nuclear launch codes?


trumpbirtherIt was when Trump embarrassed the media by suckering them into flocking to his newest hotel on September 16. The Trump campaign promised a press conference to clear the air after The Donald’s disastrous refusal to acknowledge Obama’s citizenship in an interview with The Washington Post.

But the press did not get their promised press conference.

gettyimages-606173422-620x480Instead, they all devoted precious airtime to what turned out to be an extended promotional event for Trump’s newly opened luxury hotel in Washington, plus a string of testimonials from a collection of retired military figures –followed by a few words from Trump on the birther issue.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it, you know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

Burned by the great orange con man into investing network and newspaper resources on Trump’s shameless promotional bait & switch, the media did something they’d rarely done before: they all pointed out that most of what Trump has just said was a lie.falsely

And then they actually started using the word “lie”.

They noted that the Clinton campaign did not start the birther thing.

They made it clear that Trump did not “finish it”. In fact, he’d fanned it. Right up until that Washington Post interview.

Headlines announced that Trump had traded one grudging truth for two falsehoods. The New York Times began calling it “the birther lie” – and said things like this:birther-lies-jpeg

So, as we await the first Presidential Debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton, everyone in the media is now talking about fact-checking – and, surprise, Trump and his surrogates are howling like stuck pigs.

That’s because Donald Trump is a big fat liar.

It’s the truth.

I finally read it in The New York Times.


Filed under Politics, Truth

Too Little Too Late, Mr. Birther!

48093056-cachedtrump_tweet_birther_080612So now, just hours after Donald Trump couldn’t bring himself to admit to The Washington Post that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A. — some campaign flunky puts out a statement saying that Herr Trump actually believes that Obama is, in fact, born in America.

trump-fnc-birtherWell, let’s hear that from Donald J. Trump himself.

And then let’s hear him tell us what the hell this nonsense (or pack of shameless lies) was all about 5 years ago:

Possibly-serious Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is giving few details about the investigation he claims to have launched in Hawaii to get to the bottom of where President Obama was born, but the business mogul told CNN Thursday Americans will be “very surprised” by what he has found.

donald-trump-i-really-dont-know-if-obama-was-born-in-the-us“We’re looking into it very, very strongly. At a certain point in time I’ll be revealing some interesting things,” Trump said on CNN’s American Morning.Trump first claimed earlier this month he had sent investigators to Obama’s home state in an effort to find out if the president was indeed born there, as he says he was and several media organization’s independent investigations have confirmed.

trump-birther-tweet“I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” Trump told NBC then.


C’mon mass media! Don’t let Trump skate on this one. What specific “interesting things” did he find out about Obama’s citizenship five years ago?

trumpbirtherWhat did his “people that have been studying it” really find? And why could they not “believe what they’re finding.”

Trump said all this crap.

The media must get Trump to say that Obama is a citizen with his own lips – and then ask the follow-up questions.

Make Trump back all his old statements up.

Or admit it was all a lie.

r-donald-trump-obam-birth-certificate-large570The Presidency of the United States is at stake.

I’m talking to you, Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams, Lester Holt, Anderson Cooper, Andrea Mitchell – and maybe, just maybe, the last honest journalists on FOX News.

Hoist the Great Orange Demagogue by his own petard.


Filed under History, Politics, Random Commentary, Truth

Newsweek Thumps Trump.

csscxgjwyaavllsThis is one of the few times I’ve ever posted an article written by someone other than yours truly – but today’s Newsweek takedown of Donald Trump must be trumpeted (sorry for the pun) far and wide.

Here it is:


For those with limited time to read — here’s a key segment of the opener:

donald-trumpThe Trump Organization is not like the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the charitable enterprise that has been the subject of intense scrutiny about possible conflicts for the Democratic presidential nominee. There are allegations that Hillary Clinton bestowed benefits on contributors to the foundation in some sort of “pay to play” scandal when she was secretary of state, but that makes no sense because there was no “pay.” Money contributed to the foundation was publicly disclosed and went to charitable efforts, such as fighting neglected tropical diseases that infect as many as a billion people. The financials audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global independent accounting company, and the foundation’s tax filings show that about 90 percent of the money it raised went to its charitable programs. (Trump surrogates have falsely claimed that it was only 10 percent and that the rest was used as a Clinton “slush fund.”) No member of the Clinton family received any cash from the foundation, nor did it finance any political campaigns. In fact, like the Clintons, almost the entire board of directors works for free.

On the other hand, the Trump family rakes in untold millions of dollars from the Trump Organization every year. Much of that comes from deals with international financiers and developers, many of whom have been tied to controversial and even illegal activities. None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners.

Bold emphasis mine.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-23-09-pmAre you listening, corporate news media? Are you ready now to make Trump and his surrogates answer the tough questions? Not about his silly circus sideshow with Dr. Oz – but the far more important questions raised by Newsweek.

And, if you need any more questions, Keith Olbermann has 176 reasons to grill Trump right here:

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Filed under History, Politics, Truth

If The Basket Fits…


Starring (top row, left to right) Roger Ailes, Rudy Giuliani, Trump, Christie & Coulter — and (bottom row, left to right) Sen. Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Tony Perkins, Roger Stone and David Duke.

Can’t wait for this awful movie to end.


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Filed under Comedy, History, Politics, Random Commentary, Uncategorized