Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

I’m not a huge fan of government bureaucrats.

But not because they’re bad people. Yes, there are repugnant hacks in the civil service like Lois Lerner, but most bureaucrats I’ve met are good people.

My objection is that they work for departments that shouldn’t exist (such as HUD, Education, Transportation, Agriculture, etc) and/or they are overcompensated relative to workers in the productive sector of the economy.

From an economic perspective, our nation would be more prosperous if this labor was freed up to generate wealth in the private sector.

But let’s not forget that we also have a giant shadow bureaucracy of people (sometimes referred to as “Beltway Bandits”) who get their income from government, but they’re not officially on the payroll because they work for consultants, contractors, grant recipients, and government-sponsored enterprises.

And this may be an even bigger problem. Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that there are “five and a half ‘shadow’ government employees for every civil servant on the federal payroll.”

In an interview for Fox Business Network about the EPA-caused environmental disaster in Colorado, I took the opportunity to warn about the pernicious and self-serving role of these beltway bandits.

And I made similar points in this 2014 interview, which focused on how Washington is now the richest region in the country thanks to all the taxpayer money that’s being scooped up by this gilded class.

If you want a disgusting example of how taxpayers are victimized by consultants, contractors, and other beltway bandits, just recall the Obamacare websites that turned out to be complete disasters.

That led to some amusing cartoons about the failure of government-run healthcare, but it also should have resulted in outrage about the government giving fat payments for shoddy work.

And this highlights one of the chief differences between government and the private sector.

Since there’s no bottom-line pressure to be efficient in government, contractors, consultants, and other beltway bandits can stay in business in spite of poor performance. In the private sector, by contrast, both households and businesses will quickly sever relationships with people who don’t deliver good results.

Let’s cross the ocean and look at a story which nicely captures this dichotomy.

Here’s an excerpt from a column in the U.K.-based Telegraph, and it deals with an employee at a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) who exposed fraud. In the private sector, such an employee would be rewarded. But at a GSE, which relies on subsidies and protection from competition, such an employee is treated like a leper.

An employee of France’s national rail operator SNCF has revealed being paid €5,000 (£3,550) per month to do absolutely “nothing” for 12 years, it emerged on Friday. …Charles Simon told French media that his employer, which runs France’s trains including the fast TGVs, took him off his day job in 2003 after he blew the whistle on a case of suspected fraud to the tune of €20 million. Since then he has received €5,000 per month net while staying at home with the status “available” for work.

Wow. If my math is right, that’s more than $66,000 per year for doing nothing. For 12 years!

Though at least Monsieur Simon is complaining about the situation, unlike the Indian bureaucrat who managed to get paid up until last year even though he stopped showing up for work back in 1990. Or the Italian government employee who only worked 15 days over a nine-year period.

P.S. Speaking of Beltway Bandits, that’s the name of my 55+ senior softball team and we just won the ISSA World Championship a couple of hours ago, prevailing 16-10 after falling behind 8-0.

And that was one week after we won the SSUSA Eastern National Championship.

And I also have to give a shout out to the Georgia Bulldogs of the Capital Alumni Network, which just won the championship of that 69-team league, becoming the first team in CAN history to be undefeated in the regular season and post-season tournament.

I’m disappointed I couldn’t be there for the celebration because of my other tournament. If I ever become a dictator, my first order will be that different softball tournaments can’t take place on the same weekend (and my second order will be to abolish my job and 90 percent of the rest of the government).

In any event, Go Dawgs! After winning the CAN tourney in 2012, this year’s dominating performance could signal the start of a dynasty.

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Last March, I shared a narcissistic post to self-congratulate myself on knocking a home run over the fence at a tournament in Richmond.

This almost never happens now that I’ve become a decrepit old guy, so I decided to share the news.

Well, 560 days later, it happened again. Earlier today, at our final tournament of the year, I managed to line one over the left field fence.

Here’s the satellite view of City View Park in Virginia Beach, VA, with an approximate illustration of what may be the last over-the-fence home run of my lengthy softball career.

Some day, I expect there will be a historical marker to commemorate this important event.

But there is also some bad news to share.

  • My home run put us up by seven runs going into the other team’s final at-bat, yet we managed to lose.
  • My beloved Georgia Bulldogs got spanked last night by the South Carolina Gamecocks.
  • At our seeding games on Friday, I hit a triple in the last inning when we were down by two runs. Why is that bad news? Well, our third base coach thought it would be a good idea to wave me home – even though we had zero outs and I almost certainly would have scored the tying run if I stopped at third. As you probably already have guessed, I got thrown out at the plate. But we did manage to rally for two more runs and win that game, so I guess all’s well that ends well.

In any event, these unfortunate happenings pale into insignificance. Thanks to the home run, I can enjoy Walter Mitty-type fantasies for the next few months.

P.S. I’m also taking off in a couple of hours for a few days in the Cayman Islands, so life isn’t all that bad. Maybe I’ll be able to scout out a nice place that I can escape to when America descends into Greek-style fiscal chaos. I’ll just have to re-remind the local politicians not to wreck a great place by imposing an income tax.

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I’m sure all the non-Bulldawwg readers may not be waiting with breathless anticipation, but I can’t resist a celebratory post about the Georgia Bulldogs winning the 2012 Capital Alumni Network softball championship.

We handled #4-seed American University in the semifinal game, with a workmanlike 14-6 victory.

Then, as the scoreboard below illustrates, we let #1-seed Ohio University get a lead before opening a can of you-know-what and grinding them into the dust.

The only bad news is that I couldn’t be there for the final, much less have a chance to contribute. I’m sitting at Dulles Airport, waiting for a flight to Chicago.

Normally, I would never schedule a flight to interfere with something important like softball, but the tournament was supposed to end yesterday.

But the news isn’t all bad, I got upgraded to first class. Not much consolation, but I’ll take it.

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Beginning last weekend with wins over Indiana, Arizona State, and LSU, followed earlier today with victories over George Mason University (my other alma mater), Virginia Tech (defending champs from 2011), and Vanderbilt, the Georgia Bulldogs have advanced to the Final 4 of the Capital Alumni Network softball tournament.

We play tomorrow at 11:00 against American University (#4 seed). If we get past them, we play the winner of the game between Ohio University (#1 seed) and James Madison University.

Our hero in the Sweet-16 game against Virginia Tech was Chris Walters, who hit a 3-run inside-the-park home run to tie the game when we were down to our last out.

In the Elite-8 game against Vandy, Marieo Foster was the man, with three home runs, each one more titanic than the previous blast.

Yours truly sadly didn’t contribute anything, but us old guys at least provide a steadying veteran presence. Or something like that.

Here’s a pic of the team “calling the Dawgs” before one of the games.

We began the season way back on April 1, when we won the SEC-ACC preseason tournament.

So keep your fingers crossed that we can win two games tomorrow and give the Bulldogs a much-deserved title to close out the season.

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The Georgia Bulldog softball team, part of the Capital Alumni Network league in the DC area, won yesterday’s preseason tournament featuring teams from the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference.

You may notice the presence of someone who appears to be just a tad bit older than the other players. That is not an April Fool’s example of photoshop. It is yours truly, a crafty veteran.

Anyhow, hopefully this is an omen for Georgia’s 2012 football season.

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We Are the Champions

With apologies to Freddy Mercury, the Bungalow Exporters are now the champions of the Arlington County Tuesday night softball league, sweeping our way through the tournament with four straight victories. We clinched the title yesterday with two mercy-rule victories, showing that even the leftists on the team don’t believe in redistribution when push comes to shove.

The only thing that tarnishes our victory is that we played in a government-organized league with government-provided umpires. I even drove on government-maintained roads to get to the government-owned fields. Heck, a majority of people on the team work for the government. I guess that proves I’m a pragmatic moderate after all.

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It’s time for a completely narcissistic post.

I went down to Richmond today to play in the year’s first softball tournament. The conditions were miserable, with the temperature in the 40s. The first couple of games were rather depressing. Even when I made decent contact, I hit the ball right at fielders.

But then, in our third game, I knocked one over the left-center field fence. This was my first over-the-fence home run in two years, and it definitely ranks as one of the highlights of 2011 (which may be an indictment of my life, I admit, but what the heck).

It’s no fun getting old, and I pretty much lost my power about five years ago, so I have to cherish these moments whenever they happen.

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The Few, the Brave, the…um…Old?

Time for a brief detour from political commentary.

We finally got the picture from last month’s softball world series tournament in Arizona. These amazing specimens of manhood are the “Beltway Bandits,” our over-50 team. As noted in an earlier post, we made it to the final day but didn’t come back with a first-place trophy.

Liberals should be happy with our team’s diversity. No, I’m not talking about racial composition. I’m referring to the teammate with strange preferences. I won’t identify him, but suffice to say his favorite song is a modified version of a Nat King Cole classic that he calls “Unforgettable Ewe.”

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Our AA 50+ softball team made it to the final day of the World Series tournament in Phoenix, but we lost 15-14 to a team from Alaska and missed out shot at the title.

We had the tying run on second and I was on deck when the game ended, so I missed my chance for glory (or embarrassment). But we played very well yesterday, knocking several teams out of the tournament.

And the Georgia Bulldogs beat Kentucky, their third straight win after a terrible 1-4 start, so the sports news this weekend was not all bad.

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I’m in mourning because my Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to LSU (aided by a terrible call, but also because the team is unable to return kickoffs or defend kickoffs).

In more positive news, I played in the Winter Nationals softball tourney in Virginia Beach and was named to the All-Tournament Team after going 6-9 with two home runs and two doubles.

All things considered, though, I would have prefered the Bulldogs winning and me striking out every at-bat.

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