Archive for June, 2005

A strange year for legion ball

June 22, 2005

I’m going to regret asking this question, but here goes:

Can this year get any stranger for American Legion Baseball?

So far this year in Area IV, there’s been:

1. A five-game suspension for Shelby’s Mike Grayson for a fight with a Garner coach at a tournament in Chapel Hill.

2. Forfeits by two teams – Kings Mountain and McDowell – for using ineligible players.

3. A forfeit by Huntersville for forgetting to show up for a game.

My friend Richard Walker calls this “the cloak and dagger stuff that damages the way people view legion baseball.” He’s dead right.

American Legion Baseball does a lot of good things for kids, but incidents like this one foster ill-will among fans in the region.

I hope that the rest of the year’s news from legion baseball stems from activity between the lines, and not outside of them.


There’s not much … Better Than Ezra

June 6, 2005

For a picture of my wife and me with Better Than Ezra, click here:

(Warning: the following has nothing to do with sports)

Friday was a good day.

In my mailbox was a brown envelope with the return stamp of “Ezra Dry Goods, New Orleans, La.”

Ah yes. Before the Robots…

No, I’m not tripping. “Before the Robots” is the latest release from the Louisiana-based band Better Than Ezra.

Who, you ask? Well, remember “Good” and “Rosalia” from the mid-90s? That’s them. Those two songs were off their first album, “Deluxe,” and since then, they’ve released “Friction, Baby,”
“How Does Your Garden Grow” and “Closer,” not to mention a rarities collection, a live CD and even a greatest hits album.

Tom, Travis and Kevin — pictured above with me and my wife Shanna (Editor’s note: She asked that I mention that this was one month after giving birth to our son) at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in March of 2002 — have a great sound that mixes alternative and rock into a blend that quickly takes the listener on a trip, good or bad, down memory lane.

Their music has always reminded me of my life as a teenager in South Carolina. With mixed tapes and heartaches and that free feeling you get when you cruise down Ocean Boulevard with enough money in your pocket to buy dinner and gas home.

“Before the Robots” is ripped straight from the BTE playbook with tracks like “Our Last Night” and “Lifetime,” a re-release from the “Closer” CD. It’s also a little bit funky, as the boys from the Bayou are apt to be with cuts like “A Southern Thing” and “It’s Only Natural.” Kevin Griffin, the singer/songwriter has a unique voice and the band a distinct style that separates it from the cookie-cutter acts out there these days. They can flat out rock, and then, sit down and actually play a great song.

I have a special appreciation for the band. You see, my first date with my lovely wife was in 1998 at the HOB down at the beach when Better Than Ezra was on-stage. Shanna didn’t like me much in those days, so I promised to stop bothering her if she’d only agree to go out with me just one time. I assured her that I’d never call her again if she didn’t have a good time on our date. Thinking she was about to get rid of me, she finally caved.

Thanks to a night of great music, I’m still bugging her all these years later.

I actually got to tell the band that story when my wife and I met them (again, the photo). I think they were flattered, and I think it was Tom, the guy on the left, who said something like “well, it’s cool that our music brings people together.”

We’ve seen them in concert three times, and it keeps getting better and better…

I’m hopelessly biased, but “Before the Robots” is a another great CD from BTE. And because I pre-ordered from the Ezra Dry Goods store, I got a signed copy…

Catch BTE on Conan on June 7, and give one of their CDs a try. You won’t be sorry.