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Archive for the ‘On Bob’s Mind’

SEVENTEEN INCHES

March 19, 2017 By: bob Category: Culture, On Bob's Mind, Something To Think About

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home plate

I received the following in my personal email from a friend.  It was sent to me without attribution but I was so impressed by it that I researched it and found that the article is credited as having originally been written by a person named Chris Sperry.  Coach John Scolinos (1918-2009) was a real coach.

I am reprinting it here because it is important and says something really important that I could not begin to say as well.  Enjoy and be enriched by the truth that it gives.  Bob

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In Nashville, Tennessee , during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally …“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.“I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.” Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

“How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison. “

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”………..“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause.“They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”Pause.

“Coaches…” pause, “… what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?” The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded,“you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

Here’s how to fix what’s wrong with our country today.

“Don’t widen the plate.”

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Criminal Enterprises

May 22, 2016 By: bob Category: Humor, On Bob's Mind

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Criminal Enterprise 3

A story of two organizations.  

One is a ruthless, efficient, organized criminal enterprise.  

The other is a ruthless, corrupt, inefficient, dysfunctional, poorly organized criminal enterprise that can’t balance its own books.

One of these organizations is operated by professional criminals.

The other is comprised of a few good men and women.  The other 98% are clowns, criminals and lunatics.  Sort of Larry, Moe and Curly on steroids trying to be a well oiled criminal enterprise.

Which is which?  Here is a hint.  One of them is 19 Trillion Dollars in debt.

If you had a license to legally pick the pockets of everyone in America don’t you think you could at least break even?

Meet your government.  They “legally” tax your income, your property, most everything you buy, your phone, water, gas, electric, cable television, etc. etc. bill. They also attach fees and assessments to your property tax bill.  They even charge sales tax on the “other taxes” on gasoline and many other items.   As the comedian Gallagher once said “Everywhere you leak they hang a bucket!”

Despite government’s ability to rob us endlessly, they still run deficits, then tax us to pay the interest on the debt that they created.  Talk about “creative accounting”!

Not to worry though.  Soon we will be given the choice for a new “Dear Leader” to guide us further down the path of bloated government and overwhelming debt for our children and grandchildren which will have to be “paid for” with devalued and inflated dollars.

Looks like we will be able to choose between “Hillary” (if she can stay out of jail) or “The Donald”.  What could possibly go wrong?

Bob Bandy

 

 

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MONUMENTS ALONG THE WAY

October 20, 2015 By: bob Category: On Bob's Mind, Something To Think About

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Monument valley 1a

LESSONS IN LIFE – THINGS I HAVE LEARNED

As I get older I find myself reflecting on my life and the things I have found to be true.  Many of these truths I discovered by observation and many I have learned the hard way, through experience.  The following are in no particular order.

1.  It is human nature throughout history to want to act irresponsibly without negative consequences.  But, there are always consequences.  The hardest person to forgive is me.

2.  Success in life’s endeavors most often follows self discipline.  Including hard work and responsible behavior.

3.  The Native American Indian made the mistake of believing Government promises.

4.  We do not truly appreciate what we have not worked for.

5.  Core values are essential to inner peace and harmony.

6.  A loving family and true friends are more valuable than gold or silver.

7.  We humans often do not want to hear the truth if it is unpleasant.  “I have given up my search for truth and now seek a good fantasy.”

8.  Creating dependency destroys lives.  Whether the dependency is for drugs or a handout.  That is why the nations parks have signs saying “Don’t Feed The Animals”.  It makes them dependent.

9.  Good intentions often lead to bad unintended consequences.  Example:  The War on Poverty.  In 50 years we have spent 22 Trillion Dollars fighting poverty and it is worse today than when we started and we have done great damage to the family unit in the process.

 10.   Never stop being thankful for things I too often take for granted.  The “green pastures and quiet waters” of life. My loving, faithful and long suffering wife.  The laughter and shining eyes of my daughter.  The joy and comfort of good friends.  A warm bed on a cold and rainy night.  Indoor plumbing .

11.  My faith in my Creator.  For “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…..” Psalm 139:14.

12.  And finally, when I find that I am taking myself too seriously,  I look in a mirror.  My Creator also has a sense of humor.

Bob Bandy

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AS DARKNESS FALLS

August 25, 2015 By: bob Category: On Bob's Mind, Something To Think About

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The end is near

And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment – wickedness was there,

In the place of justice – wickedness was there.

Ecclesiastes 3:16

     At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 Benjamin Franklin was reported to have been asked by Dr. James McHenry: ” What have we got, a Republic or a Monarchy?”.  To which Benjamin Franklin replied: ” A Republic, if you can keep it”.

     For some time I have been troubled by what I see happening at all levels of our government.  It seems that no matter where I look I see only a thirst for political power.

     I continue to search but find only department after department, agency after agency that have succumbed to the politics of the moment.  The Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the (in)Justice Department, the “Supreme” Court, ad nauseum.  All seem to be the lap dogs of the ruling political party.

     Freedom, truth and true justice are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.  And this altar is for a god that will never be satisfied.

     I hope for a turning point down the road.  A return to the values my country was founded on.  Faith, personal responsibility, integrity and honor.  It is only a hope.  For now, I fear the darkness that is falling over our land.

     If you read my writings you will find that I rarely quote from the Bible so you will forgive this single verse from the above mentioned Book of Ecclesiastes.  Chapter 3 verse 1 tells us: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

     Has America’s season passed?  It is my prayer that it has not.

Bob Bandy

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SACRIFICIAL ALTARS

September 26, 2014 By: bob Category: Culture, On Bob's Mind, Something To Think About

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 HAVE WE SACRIFICED THE FIRST AMENDMENT ON THE ALTAR OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?

Recently I was talking with a good friend of mine about his experiences as an Associate Professor at one of the more respected colleges you see advertising on television.  During our conversation he happened to mention something to the effect that we still have our First Amendment Right of Free Speech.  It got me to thinking.

Do we?

It seems to me that as a nation we have “sub-divided”  ourselves into various racial, ethnic and cultural groups that, all too often, seem bent on finding things to be offended by.  Just some of these divisions are political, racial, cultural, economic and lifestyle.

Often, saying something, even innocently, is perceived as an insult or “hate speech’ though no offense was intended.

If  one groups beliefs or code of conduct disagrees with the lifestyle of another groups, they risk being labeled as “haters” or “phobic”.

On most college campus’s, which are in theory citadels of free thought, tolerance and the exchange of ideas, some groups “need not apply” and their ideas and beliefs are ridiculed, mocked and laughed at.  Conservatives, for example, are not welcome and Conservative “guest” speakers are shouted off the stage.  Free Speech?  You might ask Condoleezza Rice.  Where is the tolerance and free exchange of ideas?

Some groups are politically protected, others are not. Free Speech?  Some religions you must speak respectfully of or face potentially life threatening consequences while others, such as Christianity,  are not a protected group and considered “fair game”  and “targets of opportunity” to mock and make fun of.

In my opinion Political Correctness is not an equal opportunity employer.

I also fear that we are, one by one sacrificing our Constitutional Rights in the name of “Big Daddy” Government and Political Correctness.

Are we going the way of Canada and some other countries where you can be jailed if you offend some protected group with “Hate Speech”?

Bob Bandy

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TRUST IS A FRAGILE THING

November 28, 2013 By: bob Category: On Bob's Mind, Something To Think About

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I have not written anything for a while.  When I write here I like to do so in a kind of upbeat way.  Even if I am frustrated by happenings in the world I try to temper my frustration with humor.  However, I must confess to being in a kind of “funk” for several months.

It’s a trust issue and we seem to be in a drought.

I don’t know anyone who does not fear, at some level, the Internal Revenue Service.  You do not have to have done anything wrong for them to make your life absolutely miserable.  Not even the Internal Revenue Service fully understands its own rules,  or the myriad of the often confusing, conflicting and convoluted interpretation of  those rules.

Still, I always felt comforted by the fact that all of us could expect the same unfeeling, mean spirited and heartless treatment from the IRS.  In other words I believed we would all be treated equally badly.  Not any more.

It is now clear the Internal Revenue Service, along with the Judicial System, Environmental Protection Agency, Labor Department and virtually every other Government agency and department have become politicized and hopelessly corrupted by those in political power.

We can no longer expect fair and equal treatment from government at any level.  We must change our political registration and affiliation to that of the current ruling party in the seat of government and hope for favored rulings due to our political party “loyalty”.

I no longer have any expectation that our political leaders will tell me the truth.  Not to say there are not rare individuals who tell the truth, but they are lost in the crowd of  the habitual purveyors of lies, half truths and “spin” that serve only at the twin altars of  re-election and power.

What is the old saying?  Lie to me once, shame on you.  Lie to me twice, shame on me.  To which I would add: “You have lied to me a thousand times, so do you really expect me to trust anything you say?  Sorry, trust is a fragile thing.  Trust must be earned and cannot be instilled by government fiat or Presidential executive order.”

Our political leaders remind me of a line from “The Sounds of Silence” written by Paul Simon:  “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon gods they made”.

Not much in the way of humor to find in this.  Only a kind of sorrow that we have corrupted a political system that once brought hope to so many.

Bob Bandy

 

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