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It has been too long an absence from my blog entries for my website. So let me keep you update, dear readers, on what I have been up do since mid-April and the start of the baseball season.

I have been contributing almost weekly to the “Fresh Ink” section of the www.booktrib.com website. Just submitted a post that began with a plug for a very unusual and welcome minor league baseball promotion: “Baseball and Ballet” at the Brooklyn Cyclones home park on 1904 Surf Avenue in Coney Island on Monday night July 23 at 7p.

The Brooklyn Ballet company will be performing a History of Ballet in 90-second movements between innings of the regularly scheduled game between the Cyclones, the Mets’ affiliate in the Short Season Single A-New York-Penn League and the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the Orioles’ franchise in the same circuit.

In other news: I turned 70 on June 27 and where else did I choose to be than at a ballpark – the Yankee Stadium day game between the Bronx Bombers going for a sweep against the Cleveland Indians. They won 5-4 but it was an eventful exciting game. ANDY PETTITTE’S strong comeback in pinstripes took a severe jolt when Cleveland’s journeyman-well-traveled first baseman CASEY KOTCHMAN smashed a line drive that broke the 40 year old lefthander’s ankle.

To Pettitte’s credit he tried to stay in the game but after one pitch he reluctantly left the mound. He will be out likely into late August or September and CC SABATHIA went on the DL the same day with what was reported as minor fatigue. Yet despite their absence the Yankees have taken control of the AL East. PHIL HUGHES has emerged as a solid contributor and the Japanese free agent signee formerly with the Dodgers HIROKI KURODA has also stepped up, working perhaps revealingly on a one-year contract.

I’ll never forget journeyman infielder GREG PRYOR telling me for the second edition of my labor history of baseball book “The Imperfect Diamond{ that baseball would be better if everyone were on one-year contracts. This from a longtime staunch backer of the Players Association who came from a working-class union family.

Those days will never return, alas, but evaluating makeup of a player and how he may react to the security of a long-term contract is more than an ever an important function of management.

For too many players (and human beings perhaps including perhaps yours truly if I was making that much money) the warning of jockey Eddie Arcaro possesses great truth: “IT’S HARD TO GET UP EARLY IN THE MORNING IF YOU ARE WEARING SILK PAJAMAS.”

In another news from the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles, my favorite team for more than 30 years, are seeing their best season since 1997 inexorably slide towards .500 and maybe worse. They have evident weaknesses in the starting rotation, infield defense at the corners, and a sporadic offensive lineup prone to prolonged team slumps.

As I post on the night of Sunday July 15th, the Orioles are only 4 over .500 after being a season high 13-over barely a month ago.

Their opening day starter JAKE ARRIETA is back in the minor leagues after being unable to win since a promising start. So too is their former number one draft pick southpaw BRIAN MATUSZ. A third member of the starting rotation TOMMY HUNTER has been on the Norfolk shuttle three times though he might return this week because their best pitcher JASON HAMMEL will have knee surgery and likely be lost until at least September.

One thing about these Orioles: They are great in extra innings in part because closer JIM JOHNSON has emerged as an excellent shutdown reliever (though even he has slumped lately). So all is not yet lost. I am refraining from reviving my Woerioles lament because perhaps this year will be different. Not necessarily a return to the playoffs after 16 years but the respectability of a winning record.

That’s all for now. I’m continuing to talk about Branch Rickey and his remarkable career. Will be in Cleveland talking about him and Jackie Robinson as “The Naïve Pioneers Who JumpStarted The American Civil Rights Movement After World War II.” First for Columbia alumni on Thursday evening July 19 and then for an author’s panel at SABR’s annual Jerry Malloy Black Baseball History conference on Saturday afternnon July 21.

Back to you later in the season. For now - Remember as always:
Take it easy but take it!
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