2011 Season

Edition No. 4

March 11, 2011







With the holiest day on the Hot Stove League calendar less than a fortnight away, I offer you the following thoughts and ruminations from your Two-Time HSL Defending Cellar-Dwellar


This is not an appellation that I am proud of; neither do I run from it.  Rather, I accept my present lot in life as a 50-something, Divorced (or soon to be, hopefully), Father Of Four, Crazy Busy (I know everyone in this group is, Iím not claiming to be more so than anyone else), Trial Lawyer With Many Years of High School and College Tuition and Child Support and Alimony to Pay person, who is on the downhill side of his mental acuity bar graph; and so anything other than a last place finish among this august group will be icing on the cake, an unexpected bonus, if you will.  And even if you wonít.






I have a couple of things on my mind this beautiful Spring (almost) day.  Letís start with an update on the status of the Ernst canines, since Underbelly has so politely asked.  Bear, our eight-year-old black Labrador, continues to be the crown jewel in the Ernst pet firmament.  This beautiful, loyal dog, truly manís best friend, is healthy, happy, starting to get a bit long in the tooth (as manifested by his distinguished gray beard), and continues to provide great pleasure to our family.  Oh, heís not perfect, mind you.  Earlier this week he apparently was afflicted with a touch of stomach flu, and reportedly barfed up something that looked and smelled positively awful on the rug at my exís house.  Truly a shame.  Fortunately, after a visit to the veterinarian, Bearís ailment ran its course and he was back in the pink by the time he returned to One Particular Harbor.


Itís a different story altogether with Bearís angry, bitchy, thoroughly unpleasant stepsister Zoey, who has made it her lifeís goal to deliver a daily dose of misery to yours truly. 


Iím not sure if Zoey is old enough to be approaching canine menopause ĖĖ I assume that this malady affects canine females as well as humans ĖĖ because it was my X who decided to acquire this disagreeable little creature, and she came to us without ďpapersĒ or a reliable age estimate.  In any event, Zoey is not only short-tempered, perpetually angry, damnably demanding and inexcusably impatient, she is no longer trained or trainable, and punishes me frequently by leaving unwelcome deposits throughout the house, without hint of remorse.  Adding to the misery is the fact that her founder, X, is unwilling to allow Zoey into her home because of her aforementioned detrained status.  Moreover, my kids (particularly the girls) scream bloody murder and threaten to call the SPCA every time I suggest that we might want to find a new home and/or final resting place for Zoey. 


And so, stuck between Gibraltar and Rikers Island, I continue to harbor this imperious little HellDog, putting up with her yipping, her whining, her maddening nocturnal barking outbursts at her shadow, and her myriad other aggravating habits and traits.  My only hope, I mean my only hope, is that the 12,000+ per day calorie diet of bacon grease, fatback, pork rinds, sour cream, Velveeta cheese, Oreo cookies, and French dressing will eventually close off Zoeyís main coronary artery and that she will pass on (peacefully or not, I care not) to that big Dog Pound in the Sky soon.  Of course, with my luck, Savannah and Emily will be close by when this happens and will browbeat me into employing CPR and mouth-to-mouth to keep their beloved rat pet alive. 


So there is your status update on the Ernst canines.  Just so none of you get the wrong idea, I am decidedly not a dog hater.  Just a Zoey hater. 




With all of the recent shenanigans on the Message Board, the usual posturing, puffing, pandering and hoisting of trial balloons, I simply have to come out to say that anyone who does not actually draft Prince Albert as the number one overall pick needs to be taken away in a white coat.  Yes, this means you, Possum.  For all of the bologna and malarkey being put out there by certain league members, the obvious and only sane first round pick is Mr. Pujols.  At age 31, he is at or near the peak of his physical and athletic abilities, and continuing to learn to play the game smarter and better.  He is as consistent and reliable as a Swiss watch, and is not just consistently good, he is consistently great.  Take a look at his career stats in the major leagues, from which one quickly gleans that he has had ten straight seasons of 30 or more home runs, batting average of .300 plus, and more than 100 RBIs per season.  He has scored 100 or more runs every season of his career save one (when he had 99), has always had at least 30 doubles, and has turned himself into one of the top first basemen in the majors, rarely making an error. 



Albert won the National League MVP award in 2008 and 2009, and based on his performance, should clearly have won a third straight MVP in 2010, instead of Joey Votto.  While Votto had a breakout year for a team which made the playoffs, Albert bested him in almost every major hitting category (basically everything except BA and OBP), even though National League pitchers worked around Albert whenever they could and threw many more hittable pitches to Votto. 


The problem is, Pujols is so good and so consistent that some people equate this with boring.  Sportswriters, those who vote for the MVP awards, simply got tired of writing in Albertís name first, and for that reason and that reason alone picked Votto as the MVP in 2010, instead of the more deserving Albert. 


Albert is also nearly indestructible.  In ten seasons of play, he has averaged 155.8 games per year, and has never spent a day on the dreaded Disabled List.  If these arenít enough reasons for Albert to be taken first on Draft Day on March 26, then somebody out there just isnít paying attention. 


So letís see what happens. 




Linda recently helped me preserve one of the great memories of my life by transferring the highlights of Cal Ripkenís breaking of the Iron Horseís record from VHS to DVD.  At the same time, she ran off for me a copy of my From the Bullpen dated September 18, 1995, in which I chronicled my incredible journey with B.T. to Camden Yards for Calís milestone games Nos. 2130 and 2131.  It triggered some great memories, to be sure.  I wonít rehash the whole kit and kaboodle here, but I will repeat the featured Top 10 list from that issue, ďOther Memorable StreaksĒ:


As I have reflected on Cal Ripkenís marvelous 2131 consecutive game streak, it has occurred to me that several members of the Hot Stove League have fashioned some pretty incredible streaks of their own, to-wit:



A victim of 2131 consecutive incidents of barber malpractice.



Has kissed the arse, slapped the back or licked the boot of 2131 senior management employees at First Data Resources to get where he is at today.



Wunce spieled too hunnert thurtey-won kunsekative wurds rong.



Has now either slept or eaten in every one of the past 2131 hours.



Has told wife each morning for 2131 consecutive days that he will be going on next yearís Hot Stove League trip.


Big Guy:

Has spent at least half of the last 2131 workdays talking about, thinking about, or thinking about talking about baseball.



Has managed to get away with delayed payments or has stiffed altogether his last 2131 creditors.



2131 consecutive bogus trade proposals.


Jim Ed:

Has suffered through being an Iowegian in Nebraska for 2131 consecutive days.



Drank 2131 highballs with the Mick before they spent 2131 minutes together at the Betty Ford Clinic.



Has now told Kathi, ďIf youíll just let me go on this one last trip, Iíll never ask again,Ē for 2131 consecutive guy trips.


Good God, I was a funny guy back then.   What the heck happened?


Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from that trip to enhance the written words above. 


Yesterday, when we were young.



B.T. and Mr. Cub.



Canít believe I ever shook this scumbagís hand.



Damn, heís short.



Please let go now, Ernie.



Syd and The Kid.



Caption Contest:  Please post your entry on the Message Board. 

Winner gets the checkered jacket.





I just returned from San Antonio where I traveled last week for the Spring Meeting of the American College of Trial Lawyers.  I had the great honor of being inducted as a Fellow in the College last Saturday, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I mention all of this at the risk of sounding like a braggart, but it is a risk that I will willingly take because I want to share this awesome experience with twelve of my closest chums. 




The experience began on Friday morning with a breakfast for the fifty-four new inductees from the United States and Canada.  We were told all about the founding of the College, shown the secret handshake, and informed of our responsibility to keep the flame of this sacred fraternity alive.  On Saturday, new inductees and spouses/guests were treated to lunch and a thorough discussion of the vetting process for selection.  On Saturday evening, in tuxedos and gowns, the new inductees gathered for a group picture and took the oath of the College before feasting on great food and copious drink.  The meal was followed by dancing in the ballroom and then the customary sing-along at the piano bar.


Thinking back to my college days, it was a little bit like the experience of being initiated into my fraternity, but without having to go through Hell Week first.  Pretty darned awesome.  Something I will never forget. 


Anyway, having spent the weekend in the presence of some really outstanding trial lawyers from all over the country, I have to admit that I feel a little bit like Groucho Marx, in that Iím not sure that I should really want to be in a club that is willing to have me as a member.  I guess Iíll just be glad that they didnít find the false back to the closet where all the skeletons are stored. 




I hope you have enjoyed my rambling discourse in this issue of FTB.  I canít wait to hang with my pals in two weeks. 


See you then.