2011 Season

Edition No. 24

December 28, 2011





Dear Baseball Brethren,


Just a short final 2011 issue of From the Bullpen to cap off the year and to whet your appetite for 2012. 




Our annual Christmas lunch at Jams was another smashing success, with full attendance from all eight Omaha-area owners as well as the presence of the beloved B.T. from the Star City.  Underbelly was reportedly too busy managing the mastodonic Krause, Inc. empire in Lincoln to attend—not to mention the leg shackles at the Art FX/Screen Printing Machine—and SloPay was reportedly tied up at yet another ObamaCare briefing.  Shamu and McJester were present in spirit, if not in body. 


Our luncheon began with a bang, as Comrade Krause threatened to dampen the festive holiday moods of the attendees by bolding announcing his vision for a new, friendlier, more competitive Hot Stove League, designed to level the playing field for certain league members who are not currently able to devote 50-plus hours a week to managing their teams.  B.T.’s proposal, a well-intended but ill-conceived plan of converting to a head-to-head format with line-ups being reset weekly instead of momentarily, caused a simultaneous dropping of jaws—which was reminiscent of Itchie’s long-ago announcement that he had actually found a woman (the now long-suffering Annie) who had accepted his proposal of matrimony.  After an appropriate period of shock and awe had silenced the Jams party room, the Tea Party Wing of the Hot Stove League began shouting out such epithets as “Communist!,” “Socialist!,” and “Marxist!”  A hasty straw vote quickly brought an end to any meaningful consideration of B.T.’s dramatic trial balloon, but not before the gathering nearly degenerated into mob rule and threats uttered at the proponent and primary intended benefactor of the new system such as “Let’s get ’em outside and stone ’em,” and “I say let’s tar and feather them and run them out of town on a rail!” 


Fortunately, reading the handwriting on the wall and seeing the roomful of clenched fists, B.T. quickly withdrew his proposal for the new format and order was soon restored to the room.  The remainder of the luncheon meeting was collegial, non-violent and festive. 


According to recent tradition, B.T. handed out packs of baseball cards and from his own pocket paid out winnings of $40 to Big Guy (who had a Justin Verlander card in his pack, earning him $20 for Cy Young and $20 for MVP), and $20 to Itchie, who once again proved that it’s better to be lucky than good-looking. 




The Winter Meeting was then discussed, and B.T. confessed that he still had not hiked up his trousers and gone to his mate with a request to host his own championship party, but offered that he planned to pick up a fifth of Old Granddad on the drive home to Lincoln and use the liquid steel to bolster his nerves for the approach.  Although the results of his entreaty are not yet known, the one certainty is that we will in fact have our annual Winter Meeting on Friday, January 6, most likely at Castle Krause, with the potential backup venues being at the Thielen or Ernst Estates.  Details to follow soon. 


The situs of our annual Trip was briefly discussed, and the consensus is still that we will travel to Miami to see the Marlins’ new ballpark, most likely during the April 27-29 time frame.  Further discussion on this subject will be had at the Winter Meeting. 


After the annual handing-out of the baseball calendars, the Christmas luncheon was adjourned, and as we shook hands and wished each other a happy holiday season, Brother Itchie (who else?) left us laughing with his parting line:  “My wife told me that she wanted something shiny for Christmas, something that goes from zero to 150 in 3 seconds.  So I bought her a bathroom scale!”  A gut-buster, particularly with Itchie’s impeccable timing and droll delivery.  But no wonder he sleeps in the furnace room. 




Big Apple, revisited. 


Had a great trip to New York City with my main squeeze the week before Christmas, the highlight of which was being in the audience for the taping of the Letterman show on Monday, December 19.


With seats in the third row, on the aisle, we had a perfect spot to watch the show, which included the reading of the Top Ten List by Morman Mitt, and a guest appearance by Tom Cruise, who was there to plug his new Mission Impossible movie filmed in Dubai.  Cruise looked fit as a fiddle and appeared to be about half of his fifty years of age, and had a great conversation with Letterman about the filming of his new movie, in which he does all of his own stunts, dangling from a line the diameter of a piano wire from 140 stories or so above the earth.  From our seats about thirty feet from the guest chair, it was clear that Cruise is a diminutive fellow, probably about 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds.


From his demeanor off-camera, before the show and during commercial breaks, it is quite clear that Letterman is an impatient, crabby taskmaster, at one point demanding to know if it was one of Romney’s Secret Service men who made a noise off of the set, and clearly striking terror in the hearts of his staff members.  Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable and educational experience to watch the taping of this iconic show. 


Other highlights of the trip included a refreshing two-hour nap at Carnegie Hall during the performance of Handel’s Messiah; the delightful musical “Anything Goes,”

featuring the splendid option of being able to consume one’s favorite adult beverage throughout the production; celebrating mass with another favorite adult beverage at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; visits to Rockefeller Center and FAO Schwarz; a repast of fine authentic Italian cuisine at Patsy’s

(Frank Sinatra’s favorite NY eatery); and post-theater cocktails at Hurley’s,

my new favorite Times Square saloon.  It is always exciting to visit the No. 1 city in the world, and always so good to get back to the friendly citizenry of Omaha. 




It’s old news now, but I failed to earlier report on the great glee associated with attending the Cornhuskers’ thrashing of the hapless Hawkeyes the day after Thanksgiving.  Even though this was far from a virtuoso performance by the Huskers, it was comforting to know that our beloved Big Red can deliver a beat-down to our neighboring gridiron “foe” without even having to work up a sweat. 

I will say that I was surprised and impressed by the number of Hawkeyes who crashed the party at Memorial Stadium, and while the interactions I saw between Husker and Hawkeye fans appeared to be nothing more than good-natured kidding, as a lot they are one of the cockiest bunch of football fans that I have seen in some time.  That is, right up until the time when they all filed out of the stadium early in the fourth quarter with their collective tails between their legs.  Not in our house, fellas.  Not now, not ever. 


huskers vs hawkeyes 2011

a husker fan trying to hold an educated conversation with a hawkeye fan after the big game




Not that it’s any of my business, but if I was an alumnus of good old Iowa U and a follower of the football team, I would try to put some serious pressure on the powers-that-be at the school to Deep Six that scrawny little Hawkeye mascot that goes by the nickname of “Herky the Hawk.” 

This foul little creature was so clearly overmatched by his Husker counterpart, Little Red, and was so bad at his job that he couldn’t have gotten the Indian Nation whipped into a lather at Little Big Horn.  Oh, he might be fine as a mascot for a fantasy baseball team like the Redbirds or of their ilk, but as the official mascot of a Big Ten football team, it’s time for an overhaul. 


Brother Itchie, who attended the Hawkeye-thumping with me, wondered aloud whether Herky the Hawk and Tirebiter have ever been seen together in the same room.  Hmmm.  One has to wonder. 




Be sure to check the website in the next week or two to catch a glimpse of our new look on the Hot Stove League home page, which by tradition is changed to a new look at the start of each new HSL campaign.  This year B.T. will be picking out the picture for our new look.  Thanks to Linda for all of her hard work in accommodating such luxuriant whimsy on the part of yours truly. 


As we close out this final issue of the 2011 season, I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year, on a rung somewhere down from the Senators in the 2012 standings.