Update: 1/9/10

USA NATIONAL TEAM

Having completed tryouts this past week at Chula Vista, USA Softball will announce the 2010 USA National Team at noon on Monday, according to coach Jay Miller.

USA Softball now has two events on its futures schedule: ISF World Championship XII which will be held in Caracas in June 2010, and ISF World Championship XIII, which will be held in July 2012, in Whitehorse, the Yukon, Canada.  (The ASA web site mistakenly says XIII will be held in 2010, obviously a typo.

There were rumors earlier that the 2010 Team would conduct a four-city tour to raise funds, but no formal announcement has been  made.  It is known that ASA has asked USOC for so-called “gold” money awarded  to winners of international tournaments but a USOC decision has not been announced by ASA.  Hopefully, both issues will be addressed on Monday.

POWER CRISIS IN VENEZUELA

Celebrated for its vaunted  natural resources, especially oil, which enabled citizens to buy a gallon of gasoline at the same price as a bottle of Coca Cola, energy rich Venezuela’s power crisis, which was documented in a major story in today’s Wall Street Journal, comes as an unwelcome surprise.  Like the rampant crime in Rio, these stories detract sharply from the image one expects from venues for major international sporting events.

The WSJ says Venezuela is “suddenly starved for electrical power, and officials are warning of a possible calamity.  Over the years, the Journal adds, the mostly state-run electricity sector has suffered from a dearth of investment, despite sharply rising demand fueled by government subsidies that make electricity cheap.  Moreover, like most South American countries, Venezuela is heavily dependent on hydropower.  The Guri Dam, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, supplies Venezuela with 73% of its electricity, but drought has sharply reduced water levels.  The electricity minister says the country faces an “emergency.” The dam is receding up to eight centimeters a day, and the ministry says, it is level falls too low, an operational collapse is possible.

The government has forced electricity rationing, which the WSJ says could make matters worse “for an economy already racked by recession.” The government is trying to supply additional power by relying on fossil fueled power plants.  It has made exceptions for cinemas, bars and restaurants.  Officials hope the collective rationing will sustain the power grid on this limited basis until May, when the rainy season begins.

Critics says the government is trying to snuff out capitalist-driven sectors while allowing favored industries to continue with business as usual.  Shopping malls have been a main focus of the government, although they consume less than 1% of the power.  Malls have been told most stores can only be open between 11am and  9 pm.  Metals production  has already been cut by 40% and could diminish further.

The government squeeze on shopping malls has provoked particular criticism.  As the WSJ noted, “In Venezuela, whose capital Caracas is consistently ranked among the world’s most dangerous cities, residents see shopping malls as one of the few havens in the country.”

Venezuela, of course, is the site selected by ISF President Don Porter for the 2010 XII World Championship, which he relocated from safely dull Oklahoma City.  Does the ISF staff know how to do a rain dance?

LODGING IN WHITEHORSE

Whitehorse, way up yonder in the Yukon, has been chosen  by ISF as the host for the 2012 XIII World Championship.  A different type of hunt for Gold.

In addition to its infamous former bordello, Whitehorse has 13 hotels, ranging from $100 a night to $140 for the Old Squaw Inn.  The 13 include the Muktuk Cabins.  There are a few B&B’s around Whitehorse.  The Skyy Hotel ($138) is ranked the best on the Whitehorse web site.  It is the newest (February 2009) and considered  the most modern but it has only 32 rooms.  The reviews from guests were uniformly good except for one traveler who said his room flooded when he tried to use the spa.  Most hotels had split reviews: one guest saying great, another guest at the same hotel saying it was the worst experience of the trip.  SPY’s advice:  read all the reviews, carefully, look at the photos, and book as early as possible.  Think of it as a life experience.

Contrast Whitehorse to Caracas.  The Yukon guide says: Gorgeous scenery and a vibrant city lifestyle, it’s no small wonder over 22,000 people enjoy living here year round. A healthy economy, small town values, a safe environment in which to raise a family, affordable housing, and access to the great  outdoors, make Whitehorse one of the best cities in Canada in which to live and work.

Flights. Plan on a connection – Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage – and from the Lower 48, expect to pay upwards of $300 on Air Canada, Alaska Air, Southwest, Jet Blue.

Driving? An adventure in itself.  Anchorage is 724 miles away, Seattle 1759 miles,  Skagway 112 miles, Vancouver 1663 miles, and Fairbanks 609.  Of course, you can stop and greet the native population, most of which walks on four paws, whose idea of lunch is you.  Note: There are approximately 65,000 moose, 10,000 black bear and 4,500 wolves in the Yukon.

SPY won’t go to Caracas, for non-softball reasons, but, if I’m still on this side of the ground, I will definitely go to the Yukon.  Ride on that ancient train; get a bush pilot to fly to Dawson, sit around the fire in that old whorehouse and listen to the old-timers tell Tales of the Yukon.  Ride a sternwheeler on the Yukon River.

COMMITMENTS

AZ DESERT THUNDER – Tucson, AZ

Chelsea Dohrwardt –  2011  OF – New Mexico State University

Mattie Fowler – 2011  SS – University of Nebraska

Sammi Noland – 2012  C – University of Nebraska

Taylor Watkins – 2011  OF – Ohio State University (recently moved to Seattle area)

Brianna Athey – OF/3B – Lake Land College – Morehead State University
Jami Whitcomb – P – Muscatine Community College – Morehead State University
Kara Arceneaux – 2011 – Utility – Midland Magic ’91 – Morehead State University

American Pastime Gold is proud of:

2010   Celina Vasquez   3rd / Utility   She has Signed with Briar Cliff University

18 GOLD STRIKE FORCE-JENSEN COMMITMENTS:

Jenna Fitzpatrick (2010 Murrieta Valley HS) 3B/SS * Benedictine College,

Atchison, Kansas  Unsigned Seniors: Krystal Hoham

UNSIGNED SENIOR

Name: Steviee Grove

Email: frogkatcher4@aim.com

Birth Date: 10/06/91

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 155

Parents: Gary & Marla Grove

Cell#515-249-4198 (steviee)

Hitting Coaches:  Mike Mahoney (mlb)

Catching Coach: Mike Mahoney cell 919-696-3189

Video link: www.fastpitchonlineshowcase.com

School: Indianola High School

Address: 1304 E. 1st Ave.

Indianola, IA  50125

GPA: 3.8 ACT. 26

2009 National Honor Society 2010 NHS

Community Serv: Homeless shlter,church, Asst BBall Y coach

Extra Activities:  Basketball, Softball, Mock Trial, Golf

College Interests:       Political Science/Genetics

KC XTREME GOLD

OTHER SPORTS NEWS

Peyton Manning was named MVP; fourth time, two years in a row. For the 12th straight season Manning, 33, started all 16 games for the Colts. He has not missed a start since the Colts made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft. Manning threw for an even 4,500 yards in 2009 — the second-highest total of his career, behind a mark of 4,557 in 2004 — along with 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He finished second to Houston’s Matt Schaub (4,770) for yards passing, and in a second-place tie with Favre for TD passes, one behind Brees.

Colt McCoy. Bama may have won anyhow with that stifling defense and power ball, but, after guiding the Longhorns so long and so victoriously, McCoy, in a perfect world, would have finished his college career on the biggest stage of them all.  Now, like Sam Bradford, he can only look ahead to the aNFL and wonder about what might have been.

Lindsey Vonn. Go girl; gritted her teeth after European press not too subtly suggested she had put on weight, and won yet another downhill and is back in lead for World championship.  She and the Flying Tomato will make Vancouver worth watching.

KERFUFFLE

A useful British word, much in use in Washington to describe various disturbances and out of kilter happenings – from interlopers at the White House, to large banks resuming payment of outlandish salaries and bonuses, to all manner of people skimming their systems – from staff of charitable networks lining their pockets to Congressmen doing the Washington two-step.  A Democrat from Tennessee is profiled in the Post as he announces he will not seek re-election, while the Wall St Journal chronicles his golfing trip with buddies to Scotland where he rented a party room (in addition to personal suites) for $1600 per day, not including the goodies.  Some days it seems we all jumped through the looking glass.

GOING POLITICAL FOR A MOMENT

I agree with this note from a reader:

Regardless of your affiliation you should be able to buy into this very simple concept:

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that Congressmembers could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn’t pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that is being considered…in all of its’ forms. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United
States Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States”.

OLD GROUCH DEPARTMENT

Read through eleven pages of Internet postings looking in vain for a study which confirms my suspicion that most cell phone-related vehicular accidents involve women.

Just today watched this broad  holding her phone to her ear sail through an intersection – against a red light. Would have served her right if she were T-boned.  But, God seems to protect sailors, drunks and women using cell phones.

Grace, courtesy and good manners seem to fly out the window when a woman has a cell phone in her hand.  Standing in the check-out line at the Safeway behind some woman chatting away, heedless of the time she is stealing from others.  The other day, a woman parked in a no-parking zone, partially blocking both doors to the Safeway; when this portly madam came out with her groceries, phone in hand, I stopped her after she was seated and told her she was breaking the law; she gave me the finger and sped off.  Earlier in the week, a woman parallel parked behind me, yakking on her phone, and screamed at me when I told her she had to move so I could get out of the parking space.  And, she was on the north side of 70, with an ample supply of curse words.

To be sure, there are men who fail any reasonable measure of cell phone etiquette.  Recently, a man dining alone in a McLean restaurant was stuffing his lunch into his mouth and simultaneously talking, loudly, on a cell phone.  Probably oblivious to the fact that the phone amplifies the sound of his chewing, but he was so obnoxious the manager finally told him to lower his voice, or better yet hang up, finish his lunch and leave.

Our recent snow storm seemed to signal to some drivers that the rules of the road had been suspended; parking across two or more lanes, running lights and stop signs, etc.

Just read that all of the featured performers in Casablanca were now deceased.  Every time I see that film, I think of a time in Washington (and also in Paris and Madrid) where men wore white dinner jackets in season – and tried to exhibit and hold on to something of grace and  manners.

Made me think of that great opening paragraph in Margaret Mitchell’s epic: “once upon a time there was a land of cavaliers and cotton fields – where gallantry took its last bow – a civilization gone with the wind.”

rfh

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