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My Ode to the Portsmouth Murals and creator Robert Dafford and Late Scout Gene Bennett

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training by Valentine's Day. Still one of the greatest phrases in the English language! Banquet season begins in earnest in January.

One of the great hot stove league dinners is the Portsmouth, Ohio banquet to support the remarkable Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals on the Ohio River in Scioto County southern Ohio (a stone's throw from Kentucky). Here is the link for a piece I wrote for the The National Pastime Museum website. You can access it at https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/portsmouth-murals-banquet-supports-great-cause-baseball-rich-area

UPDATE: Reports I received from Portsmouth indicate it was a very moving banquet evening with tributes galore to the late Gene Bennett. It may be the first dinner where an umpire relieved a starting pitcher. Main speaker Tom Browning, the former Reds southpaw and perfect game hurler, couldn't make the date and active umpire Greg Gibson filled in for him very capably.

The spirit of Gene Bennett imbued the evening from all I heard. Gene's adage:
"Talent sets the stage, character sets the ceiling," should be repeated again and again.

Another late Cincinnati scout Julian Mock had a wonderful series of Five Questions he asked every possible prospect. It goes one better than the Four Questions of the Passover Seder that we Jews were raised with. Here they are:

**1. Do you really love the game of baseball?
**2. Are you willing to work harder than you ever worked in your life?
**3. Are you willing to learn new things about your craft?
**4. Are you willing to laugh every day?
**5. Will you never forget where you came from?

The last question may be the hardest to project an answer in this age of mega-million dollar salaries. The latest stunner being Josh Donaldson's $23 million single-season contract to avoid arbitration with the Blue Jays.

He still might be traded as may be fellow third baseman Manny Machado of Orioles who received over $16 million to avoid arbitration. Both are represented by the same agent Dan Lozano of the Beverly Hills Sports Council that got Albert Pujols his humongous and now onerous 10-year contract with the Angels.

Maybe owners are wising up that you don't give long-term contracts to players who inevitably age often not gracefully. Especially pitchers. We'll see if there is always "a greater fool" owner out there wanting that moose to put on the wall.

Donaldson and especially Machado are young enough to get long-term contracts when they are free agents after this season. All the millions being thrown around these days and the constant coverage of it sometimes makes me wonder why I still care.

Not for long though - it is too great a game and still better than any other sport IMO.
"The ball is round, the bat is round, and you have to hit square" still holds true.

Back later in the month with more news on signings and the upcoming Hall of Fame vote to be announced on January 24. In the meantime: Always remember: Take it easy but take it!

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Pre-Thanksgiving Hot Stove League Thoughts

It has been a long time since I posted. So let’s see what major events happened between September and mid-November.

**Our President was re-elected convincingly in the electoral college and by over three million popular votes, a smaller margin than 2008 but still impressive given the hateful  Read More 
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