Countdown to Halloween – 2014 Edition

In a blatant attempt at bringing traffic to my blog, I have joined the “Countdown to Halloween” this year as a “Cryptkeeper”. This means I have committed myself to posting regularly this month on Halloween-related themes. Since as a baseball fan, I will be unable to avoid commenting on the playoffs and World Series on occasion, my posts for the Countdown will feature this banner:

I’ve got nine posts ready to go. Now I could post them daily, one right after the other, but I’d completely run out of all of my possible ideas well before the end of the month. So I’ll be spacing them out, posting one every few days.

In order to have something a bit more for you right now, the Free Music Archive has dozens of collections of Halloween-themed music for you to download. Should be plenty to put you in the mood….

By the way, this year’s Countdown has nearly 200 Cryptkeepers. Click on the banner to get to the Master List – and give them page views and comments!

World Series Hopes

While there are still a couple of games left, and the wild card spots are still being decided, it’s pretty well set which teams are going to the playoffs. So very soon, you’ll start seeing odds on the World Series. I’m not so dedicated a fan (or bettor) to really care about that sort of thing. I’ll be watching anyway.

But I am free to muse on which teams I would like to see (anyone but the St. Louis Cardinals, essentially) in the World Series. Rather than run down the various pluses and minuses for each team, I thought I’d instead look at possible W.S. pairings according to what I suspect FOX would like to see.

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Pitchers and the MVP Award

This year, the National League has two solid contenders for their Most Valuable Player award: Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins and pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just as three years ago when Justin Verlander won the AL MVP, there’s a lot of the same old debate as to whether or not pitchers should even be allowed to be eligible for the Most Valuable Player award.

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Derek Jeter

Some years ago, American Heritage Monthly had an annual “Overrated – Underrated” where they asked writers and historians to write brief essays on things that were Overrated and Underrated in categories within their areas of expertise. From “Fictional Detective” to “Philanthropist” to “Ad Campaign”, they were all fun and informative. I’ll probably write my own essays in that format soon.

But with Derek Jeter retiring at the end of this season, online comment boards are filled with arguments insisting that he is overrated – and underrated. Is this possible? Can the same thing be both at the same time?

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How We Count

A while ago, I came across a neat little video by Dutch filmmaker Jeroen Wolf. For fun, apparently, he filmed people from 1 to 100 saying their age.

It’s a pretty cool look at the human lifetime, but as I was watching it, I noticed something interesting. Numbers in Dutch are different from those in English. Not the numbers themselves, of course, but the names we give those numbers.

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Book Review: “World War I: The African Front” by Edward Paice

Wars, for much of history, have been filled with drama. The epic clash of huge armies, with the fates of nations at stake. At the personal level, there are tales of heroism and endurance. Most often, our attention is focused on a main front – that’s where all the big battles are. Yes, battles between many thousands of men can be interesting, but so can the battles on the fringes and flanks where the numbers are only in the hundreds.

Subtitled “An Imperial War on the African Continent”, Paice’s book looks at World War I in East Africa. The fighting there was basically the last mad grab for colonies, as Britain went after German East Africa (modern Tanzania). Belgium (Belgian Congo, now DR Congo) and Portugal (Portuguese East Africa, now Mozambique) were also dragged into the fighting.

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A Visit to Nationals Park

On Thursday the 31st, I drove down to D.C. to see the Nationals host the Phillies. Not giveaway day, but another first-place team (the Nats). A fairly straight drive down Route 295. ON the way down, you pass a lot of exits for government and military facilities. Including – maybe (grin) – the “Employees Only” exit for the NSA.

Unlike Camden Yards, Nationals Park is off in the fringes of D.C., on the Anacostia River waterfront. Despite the stadium’s presence there for six years, there hasn’t yet been any significant development in the area. Still a lot of vacant lots and miscellaneous industry. One hopes that will change in the future.

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