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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s a happy, happy day.  Know why? Because Spring Training starts today!  Yip! Yip! Yip!

Ol’ Robbo is feeling generally pretty good about his beloved Nationals going into the 2019 season.  Bryce or no Bryce,*** I think we made some good off-season trades to bolster our starting rotation, to bring some depth to the bench, and (hopefully) to shore up the bullpen, and making allowances for all the things that can go wrong over 162 games or more, I firmly believe we’re contenders this year.

(***Not the Phillies.  That’s all I ask.  Not the Phillies….)

Last year’s embarrassing mediocrity lay, I think, in a sort of languid assumption that we were going to walk away with the pennant again.  And I think it was unfortunate that we started out with rookie manager Dave Martinez doing weird things with camels and “group sessions” and all that other HR-inspired “community building” crap during spring training, rather than reminding the guys that they needed to be hungry for it from Day One.  I believe we really never caught up from that stumble.  Whole damn season felt positively flat.  Hopefully, he’s learned a thing or two about management and motivation from the experience, and we’ll see the Nats come out of the gate a lean, mean, fighting machine.

Plus, I think we kinda didn’t expect anyone else in the division to play very well.  Atlanta put paid to that.  Some of the other clubs are looking more promising this year, too.  Again, hopefully we’re not misunderestimating our rivals.

Anyhoo, as I say, I’m feeling pretty good, although I’ll save actual season predictions until after camp.

And apart from that, what else is there to say except






Friends of the decanter who also follow the Boys of Summah know that pitchers and catchers report next week, meaning Opening Day is just around the proverbial corner.

What you might not have seen was this week’s announcement that the MLB is officially changing the term “Disabled List” to “Injured List”:

Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem said Thursday the change is being made at the suggestion of advocacy groups.

“In recent years, the commissioner has received several inquiries regarding the name of the ‘Disabled List,'” Pfeifer wrote in a memo. “The principal concern is that using the term ‘disabled’ for players who are injured supports the misconception that people with disabilities are injured and therefore are not able to participate or compete in sports.

“As a result, Major League Baseball has agreed to change the name ‘Disabled List’ to be the ‘Injured List’ at both the major and minor league levels. All standards and requirements for placement, reinstatement, etc., shall remain unchanged. This change, which is only a rebranding of the name itself, is effective immediately.”

Cor lumme, stone the crows.

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t care about the language itself so much as the idiotic reasoning behind this nonsense.  Whose “misconception” are we talking about?  When I see Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Eaton was put on the DL for some injury or other, my immediate reaction is, “Oh, no, what happened to him and when will he be able to return to play?”  It is emphatically not, “Golly, Zimm and Mighty Mouse are now just like those people with disabilities who are not able to participate or compete in sports.”  Where is the evidence that people exist who would actually think this way?

Well, if MLB has decided to go down this road, allow Ol’ Robbo to suggest a few other changes:

“Strike” – This is far too violent, and especially in a men’s sport has particular connotations of violence towards women.  May I suggest “gold star” instead.

“Ball” – Again, with a men’s sport, I can’t help noticing that this word also is slang for a certain part of the male anatomy, and in this context might be seen as promoting rape culture.  Let’s go with “Good try”.

“Steal” – Obvious reference to theft, which is sure to be a pejorative re-enforcement of our prejudices regarding certain sections of the population.  Try something more uplifting like “sharing the next base”.

“Sacrifice fly/bunt” – Too Jesus-y.  In order to do away with antiquated notions of “God” and bring a proper sense of the proletarian struggle, call it a “People’s fly/bunt”.

“Designated Hitter” – Sorry, there is no better term for this.  Better get rid of it and the rule providing for it altogether. Now.


“Foul” is out.  We now say “inappropriate”.

The “warning track” is now the “reminder zone”.

“Suicide squeeze”? Fuggedaboutit!

I’m sure friends of the decanter can think of some more apropos amendments to the patois in aid of further suppressing wrong think.

In the meantime, Ol’ Robbo is off to watch his copy of “Major League“, in part to get myself in the mood for spring training, in part to thumb my nose at those forces of darkness who have  disappeared Chief Wahoo from the Cleveland franchise and no doubt will try to do away with the Indians’ name altogether some time in the near future. Maybe they can be the Cleveland New Green Deals?

(Pro tip re the movie: If you fast-forward through the subplot love story between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo, this is a very economical little flick, and you’ve enough time left over for the behind-the-scenes extras which are quite informative.)



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As a bounce-back from this week’s Virginia infanticide Debacle, which is now in the rake-handle-to-the-face-of-the-Left stage, how about a little of this and that?

♦  It’s snowing around Port Swiller Manor at the moment, and Youngest is out running errands in it.  (Needless to say, school is cancelled today per the county’s “one flake” policy.)  When I expressed some misgivings about this, she said, “But Dad, I need the experience, right?”  Yes, yes she does.  That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worry.

♦  Ol’ Robbo recently had a birthday.  I’m now 54.  That puts me in my “mid-50’s” now, right? And have I officially hit middle age?  Red Ferrari and leggy young blonds, here I come! (Not.) Reminds me again of a favorite Basil Fawlty internal dialogue:


What was that?

That was your life, mate.

Oh, that’s nice.  Do I get another?

Sorry, mate.

♦  How about some micro-movie reviews?

The Big Country (1958) – I first saw this on teevee when I was about 12 or so.  It was the movie that made me first fall in love with westerns, mostly because of the beautiful scenery.  The story itself is about Easterner Gregory Peck finding himself in the middle of a bitter fight over water rights.  I never understood the appeal of Peck, who to me always seemed so wooden.  Whenever I put this to the Mothe, who thought he was yummy, she’d always say, “You haven’t the genes, dear boy.  You haven’t the genes.”  It also stars the equally unappealing to me Jean Simmons, who always seemed like such a rabbit.  Charlton Heston struts his stuff and Burl Ives is a thoroughly creepy contender in the fight.

Gung Ho! (1943) – Pure WWII propaganda based on a 1942 Marine raid on the Japanese-held island of Makin in the Gilberts.  There’s not much to say about it, except that it stars Randolph Scott and a young Robert Mitchum, who is one of Ol’ Robbo’s favorite actors.

In Which We Serve (1942) – Another WWII film, written and directed by, and starring Noel Coward.  Survivors of a Brit destroyer sunk by the Luftwaffe off Crete think on their past lives as they cling to a life raft.  It’s actually pretty well done.  I wrote the other day about my misgivings over John Wayne’s decision to stick to his acting instead of signing up for the war.  Coward tried to sign on, but was specifically told by Churchill that he’d do more good sticking to entertainment.  The Nazis wanted to kill him at any rate.

♦ Is the Super Bowl this weekend?  I doubt I’ll watch.  OTOH, pitchers and catchers report in two weeks, so it isn’t that long until the real sports season begins! (UPDATE UNO:  Let me make clear that I’m not “boycotting” in support of Colin Kaepernick or anything.  I just don’t give much of a damn.  And the Pats are more or less a lock anyway since Belicheck signed his soul away to Satan.)

♦  Oh, and tomorrow is Candlemas, but it’s also Groundhog Day.  A fun fact about Robbo: I have never made it through the Bill Murray movie of that name without dozing off.  I don’t know why – time and place, possibly – but it’s true.  I’ve absolutely nothing against it, you understand, but to this day I don’t know how it actually ends.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, we actually got a couple inches of snow after all.  Perfect for taking the puppeh on a long walk round the neighborhood.  On the other hand, Mrs. Robbo’s overnight school outing to the Murrland Science Center got cancelled, so now she’s more or less kicking her heals.  When Mrs. R has a lot of energy and nothing in particular upon which to focus it, it’s best to slide quietly out of the way and hide.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As those of you who follow major league baseball will know, one of the big off-season questions has been whether Bryce Harper stays with Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals or goes elsewhere.

Personally, I’ve been fairly indifferent about it.  If we can keep him for a reasonable amount of money, fine.  If not, see ya.  I’m completely immune from any superstar fanboydom here.

The one thing I do ask the Baseball Gods is if that he does go, it isn’t to another National League East team.  That’s just too close to home.

Which is why the latest buzz that the Philadelphia Philthies may be making a move fills me with concern.

Don’t do it, Bryce!  You’ll hate it there!  The city’s disgusting and the fans will turn on you in an instant!  And I heard the Phanatic molests players in the locker room!


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo finds himself watching “The Legend of Bagger Vance” on one of the golf channels this evening.  Will Smith (who I’ve often argued could have been the modern day Cary Grant) and MATT DAMON!

So far, it’s pretty lame.  And totally predictable.

But what amuses me are the commercials in between.  Is there any sport out there that has a more direct connection with hustling merchandise to its audience?  I mean the NFL and MLB push things like jerseys on pure spectators.  Big Golf pushes merchandise on legions of wannabe competitors.  Clubs, balls, practice aids, shoes, apparel – you name it.  (And now that I think about it, I suppose Big Tennis does the same thing.)

I don’t note this out of mockery.  Ol’ Robbo actually likes the game a good bit.  I learned it initially from my old father, who eventually became about an 8 handicap.  The summah before I went off to law school I spent working as a bagboy at a club.  One of the perks was free lessons with the club pro, a woman who had a real gift for teaching.  I never got so far as establishing a handicap myself, but I did gain a fundamental appreciation of the game.

I haven’t had much time at all since then to do anything about it, much to my regret, but it’s always been a plan of mine to include a return to golf among the Four Things I plan to do in my retirement (the other three being serious writing, the piano, and gardening).  I’ve still got the Old Gentleman’s last set of clubs, which I don’t think he ever actually used.  It’s sitting out in my garage, gathering dust.  Some day I’ll dust them off and take them for a ride.  But I’m sure by then, if the bug bites me good and hard, I’ll find myself taken in by whatever up-to-the-moment technology Big Golf is flogging at that point.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As all of baseball fandom knows, one of the biggest questions of this off-season is whether Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats will re-sign Bryce Harper or whether he will go elsewhere.

I’ve been chewing on this question for some time now and have come to this conclusion: I’m perfectly comfortable either way.

If for whatever reason Harper decides he really likes it here and is willing to take less money than he might get somewhere else, fine.  Welcome back.  When Zimm hangs it up, you’ll be the Face of the Franchise (until Juan Soto buries you, that is).

On the other hand, if Harps demands a nosebleed salary? Don’t chase him, let him walk.  Spend the money elsewhere, like yet again reconstituting the bullpen or acquiring another quality starter.  We’ve got an exciting young outfield even without him and I don’t see that his loss would put us in any real hole.

Curiously, I find I really have nothing invested in this question emotionally, not like I did when we lost Desmond, say, or Ramos, or like I would if we lost Rendon, for instance.  For whatever reason, I’ve really just never warmed up to Harps, but view him from a strictly utilitarian standpoint.

The only thing I would hate is if he wound up with another team in the NL East and we had to see him all the time.  I saw a horrifying headline recently suggesting that both he and Mike Trout could move to Philly, but I think that was just some fantasy wanking.

Anyway, I thought I would get this out there before any nooz breaks.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I hope all you friends of the decanter had a happy – or at least an uninteresting in the Chinese curse sense –  Thanksgiving.  I can certainly say that the Family Robbo’s was one of the best I can remember: Thirteen of us sat down to dinner on Thursday, and it was a positive joy to see the Gels, along with my nephew and two elder nieces, really taking their places as the next adult generation of the family.  No harsh words, since every single one of us except my elder cousin and my four-year-old grand-nephew (it’s a long story) are more or less of the same socio-politickal frame of mind.  Instead, lots of rapid-fire banter and general jollity.  Plus, they all ate like wolves.

A few odds and ends:

♦  As they have for many years now, Robbo’s brother and SiL hosted.  Brother likes to roast his turkey on the grill, so we two always wind up spending several hours outside on T-Day afternoon, fiddling with the coals, adding wood chips now and again, worrying about whether the thermometer is giving accurate readings, and generally kibitzing.  (The adult beverages, of course, may be taken as a given.)  This year he did such a good job of it that Ol’ Robbo is beginning to think about doing his Christmas roast beef the same way.

♦ I notice that hotels seem to take great liberty with the use of the word “suites” in their names.  To me, a two bed double is a two bed double, whether it has a small reception area attached to it or not.  “Suite” means separate bedrooms.  I had to share with Mrs. R and the two Younger Gels this year.  (Eldest goes to school nearby and just stayed in her dorm.)  They’re all slobs.

♦  Another tradition Brother and I have is to go hiking on the Friday after T-Day, in part to work off our overindulgences of the day before, in part to flee the madness that is “Black Friday”.  This year, however, it was much colder and danker than we had anticipated.  We took one look at the sky, said, “Nah, Brah”, and instead spent all afternoon watching college football.  First was the Texas-Kansas game, about which we cared not much except for a residual fondness for the Longhorns from our misspent yoots in Texas.  Second was the Virginia Tech-UVA game, about which we cared a great deal since my nephew is a junior at Tech.  Woah, what a game.

And all the Hoos in Hooville went boo-hoo-hoo!

♦  Speaking of traditions, the other day Ol’ Robbo had seen a clip for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special featuring the Peanuts gang all around the table and said to himself, “Self, I see that Franklin is sitting all alone on one side.  Perhaps somebody will yell RAAAAAYCIIISSS!!!”  I was only joking, but evidently in the Brave New Dystopia, nothing is funny.

Sigh.  On the drive home this morning, Mrs. R was rattling off talking points about how Charles Shultz was, in fact, quite enlightened about race relations for his time, how he insisted on having Franklin in the show despite others’ objections, and how one has to look at these things in context.

“You’re wasting your time, you know,” I said.  “For the people screeching, this is about the will to power.  You can’t reason or argue with it.  It consists totally of ego and emotion and has no goal other than destroying absolutely everything outside of itself.”

♦  Actually, the character I’d hate getting stuck next to is Pigpen.  Blech.

♦  And speaking of the drive home, it simply poured all the way from west-central North Carolina to Northern Virginia.  Middle Gel had driven herself to the Feast from the Tidewater area on Wednesday, and the whole way home today I was thanking Heaven that at least all this muck is supposed to blow out overnight and that the Gel would have a nice day to get herself back to school tomorrow.  It was only a short while ago that I learned the stinker had herself lit out this morning to go stay with her roommate (who lives near campus) overnight and thereby save herself the slog tomorrow when traffic gets bad.  So what am I gonna do with all this pent up worry?

Anyhoo, a good time was had by all, everyone is back where they ought to be, and Ol’ Robbo has the indulgence of another full week before I need to get myself in an Advent frame of mind.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is off from work tomorrow, so tonight is my early Friday Night.  What say you to opening the sluice-gates of my alleged mind and see what comes pouring out?

♦   How about just a little politicks first? Robbo’s prediction: The ‘Pubs hold the House and gain in the Senate. (And yes, both the Elder Gels have mailed in their absentee ballots.) Blue Wave? Naw.  Red Tsunami.

♦  Related, today was “Patriotism Day” at Youngest’s high school. (It’s “Theme Week” leading up to Homecoming this weekend.  Teh kidz were supposed to dress up appropriately.  Youngest wore Stars & Stripes pants and a “Trump 2020” shirt.  Heh, indeed.

♦  Okay, how about we turn to the Arts? Yesterday evening on the drive home, Ol’ Robbo heard the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony on the local classickal station.  The DJ started off by reading some wankstein’s musings about how this piece was ol’ Pyotr Ilyich’s musickal musing on the subject of Destiny, and the ambiguity of whether the final movement represented a Triumph over Fate or a resigned acceptance of it.

Cor lumme, stone the crows.  This is exactly why I loathe Romanticism in all its manifestation.  I don’t give a damn about Tchaikovsky’s views on predestination, I only care about whether the musick is well-crafted or not.  (Duke Ellington: “If it sounds good, it is good.”)

♦  Oh, and I hadn’t realized it until I researched this a bit, but Cole Porter stole the main theme from this movement for his song “Farewell, Amanda” from the Spencer Tracy/Kate Hepburn move “Adam’s Rib”, one of my old favorites.  Been a while since I’ve seen it…..Must look to Netflix queue…….

♦  By the bye, I  despise the whole concept of predestination and fatalism, too.  Ol’ Robbo would not have made a good Calvinist.

♦  Any Charles Portis fans among you?

♦  Today is the Feast of St. Chrysanthus, an early martyr. I had hoped that there might be some association with chrysanthemums, since they are so closely associated with this season and many flower names do, in fact, have Christian origins, but apparently not.  (I don’t really care much for mums anyway.  Too garish for me.)

♦  I suppose I had ought to say something about the World Series here, but really, Ol’ Robbo has no dog in this fight.  I’m pretty sure the Sawx are going to win it all.  I am absolutely sure there’s nothing quite so obnoxious as a triumphant Bahston sports fan.

♦  Speaking of athletics, Ol’ Robbo has got back into working out on his rowing erg.  I realized recently that I had made a big mistake last year (when I first bought it) of trying to do long, steady, power rows (30 minutes, for instance) right off the bat.  I quickly got discouraged with that (being not a 19 y.o. varsity athlete but a 53 y.o. desk-jockey), and so stopped using the thing.  But recently it occurred to me to do some research on recommended workouts and I came across a whole packet of programs of interval training.  Makes all the difference in teh world.  I’ve been at it now for about two weeks and haven’t felt this good in a long time.

♦  By the bye, when I was rowing crew in college back in the day, I had a t-shirt that read “Put an erg on the water and it sinks…”  I still think that’s the right attitude.  (Who knows? Perhaps one day Ol’ Robbo will invest in a scull and take up plashing about on the Potomac.)

Well, enough.  Tomorrow morning, Ol’ Robbo probably will try to get out and give the yard one final mow for the year, ahead of the nor’easter which is supposed to blow in later in the day.  Porch plants probably come inside this weekend, too, and I’m getting ready to slap the rear side-panels back on La Wrangler in anticipation of the colder weather.  (And wetter.  I understand we may get an El Nino this year, which means much precipitation on the East Coast.)







Greetings, my fellow port swillers and happy Columbus Day!  Did you know that ol’ Robbo didn’t even realize this was a holiday weekend until last Friday?  The relief I felt when I found I had an extra day after all the silly running about behavior I had to do Saturday and Sunday was immense.

So on to this and that:

♦  In the spirit of the day, I recommend to you once again a trilogy of books by Hugh Thomas, sent to me by long-time friend of the decanter Old Dominion Tory.  They are Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan, The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America, and World Without End: Spain, Phillip II, and the First Global Empire.  What I really like about these books is the way Thomas sets Spain’s American ventures in the context of its home politicks and culture – the Reconquista, the Inquisition, the relations of Castile and Aragon, and the larger Hapsburg connections between Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.  It all wouldn’t make much sense otherwise.

♦  Speaking of which, Eldest is taking a course this semester on pre-Columbian American empires, specifically the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas.  She’s really enjoying it, in part because her prof refuses to paint them as Rousseauian utopias and is careful to include the uglier aspects as well.  (She recently watched “Apocalypto” in connection with the course.  Her review? “It was weird.”)

♦  And speaking of ugly, is Melania Trump really getting flak for wearing a “colonial” pith helmet on her tour of Africa?  Do these fookin’ people honestly have nothing better to do with themselves?  Or is this just aggression-transfer resulting from last week’s Pickett’s Charge effort to sink Justice Kavanaugh?

♦ On a completely different note, our trip to CNU to visit Middle Gel this weekend was very nice.  We saw her perform in a pan-musick department concert Saturday afternoon, and then went to a BBQ picnic out on the lawn.  While we were eating, the marching band came, well, marching by on their way to the football stadium for the evening’s game.  I understand they are the second largest Division III marching band in the country.  They were really strutting their stuff, too.  I dunno why, but Ol’ Robbo has always been a sucker for school marching bands.  I like both the sound and the razzmatazz.  (And no, I was never a Band Geek myself.)

“Ah, Ha, Ha, Haaa…”

♦  Pulling out of the parking garage at the hotel yesterday morning, Ol’ Robbo was able to make a turn in our Honda Juggernaut that missed a neighboring car’s fender by inches but saved me having to back up again.  As I did so, I laughed in the voice of Snake from “The Simpsons”.  Mrs. R looked at me and said, “You are so strange.”  But I was happy.  Is this just a guy thing?

♦  And speaking of happy and driving, friend of the decanter Tubbs remarks in a comment below on the slog that is I-95 and the Dee Cee Beltway.  In fact, we didn’t do too badly coming up I-64 from the Tidewater and then I-95 from Richmond yesterday.  And I have to confess that ever since they’ve completed the EZ-Pass express lanes on the Beltway and dropped them down to around Stafford on I-95, the last 45 minutes or so of my trips home from south of The Swamp have become downright pleasant.

Whelp, that’s about it.  Ol’ Robbo needs to go mow the lawn now and feel appropriately guilty about historickal European destruction of Indigenous Peoples, but mostly go mow the lawn.

UPDATE: Yardwork status? Done.  I forgot to mention earlier that we took Youngest with us on our visit this weekend.  She got very mad at Ol’ Robbo because I point-blank refused to let her practice driving on the interstates.  I did, in fact, let her drive when we were in Newport News, but even then she almost ran a red light because she got distracted by something.  No way is she ready for bumper-to-bumper at 80 MPH.

Ol’ Robbo sees Nike has just announced that Colin Kaepernick will be the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

Uh, huh.

Ol’ Robbo has watched the whole taking-a-knee-for-the-National-Anthem kerfluffle only from the, er, sidelines, since I haven’t paid any real attention to the NFL since the early 2000’s.  This tailing off followed the retirement of Dan Marino in ’99 and the subsequent sinking of the Miami Dolphins, beloved by me since 1970, into perpetual mediocrity.  Also, the Gels were beginning to come along, and as they obtained some level of awareness of their surroundings, I didn’t want to have to spend Sunday afternoons trying to explain to them commercials for beer, Hooters, and erectile-dysfunction treatments.

Also, the very few times I’ve seen a game since then I’ve noticed a change in the whole “feel” of the thing.  I can’t explain it, exactly.  It may have something to do with the tone and pace of the game, or maybe with the quality of the teevee coverage, or some combination thereof, but the fact is that I don’t much care for it.  (In fairness, it may also be because the very few games I’ve seen have tended to be post-season.  I can’t really stand Fox’s post-season MLB broadcasts either.  Not that I’ll see my beloved Nationals playing October ball this year.  Sniff….)

Anyhoo, when the whole “take-a-knee” social justice warrior biznay came up, as put off as I was by pampered entertainer grandstanding, I couldn’t very well boycott the NFL because, as I say, I wasn’t watching it in the first place.

Nike is a different matter, however.  As it happens, I need a new pair of running shoes, as I’ve finally burned my old ones out.  If Nike wants to play SJW politicks they’re free to do so, but they’re not going to get my business now.


A glass of wine with Ed Driscoll over at the Puppy-Blender’s place.

UPDATE: By the bye, the first one of you wisenheimers who comments “Laces OUT, Dan!” gets a fusillade of walnuts to the noggin.  Just saying.



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