Designated Hitter Hater

Flat out: I am a designated hitter (DH) hater. Since the professional baseball teams in the American League started using this concept many years ago, it hasn’t overjoyed me.

The idea is based on the “fact” that pitchers can’t hit and therefore shouldn’t have to hit. This year (2022) the National League has gone along with the DH idea. Now, a player can hit for the pitcher in both leagues and that alleviates the pitcher from having to pick up a bat. It also relieves the designated hitter from having to play the field.

First off, why can’t pitchers learn to hit? In games in high school and across the country at almost all levels some of the best hitters on a team are in fact the pitchers. One of the greatest pitchers of all time, Babe Ruth, was also the greatest hitter of all time. Sadly, they retired him from pitching so he could play the field and hit.

Fine, fine, maybe you buy into the idea of a pitcher not having to hit. I don’t like the idea, obviously, but I think I lost that argument long ago.

But I have another idea: Why do we need the DH at all? Okay, the pitchers don’t have to hit. Fine. But why do we have to throw in another player to hit instead? Don’t do that. We don’t need a designated hitter at all.

That’s great, right, no DH: “So let it be written, so let it be done.” (The 10 Commandments movie.) That’s right. Eliminate the DH and go to (here comes my really, really radical idea) an eight-player lineup. Why do we need nine players to hit when eight would probably make every team’s lineup a better one?

I would prefer to see Aaron Judge and Mike Trout and other high-powered hitters get an extra shot at bat with an eight-player lineup. “Eight hitters” is the best idea! Get rid of the DH. I think it would make the game much stronger too.

Most DHs are not assets to a team as are the other eight hitters. They are often older players playing out the string, or poor fielders who wouldn’t make the team if not for the DH, or you can add any other reason which you imagine.

Look, the teams would save money and the fans would get to see the better hitters.

Therefore, as a designated hitter hater, I call for the end of said DH and an inauguration of an eight-player line-up.

Baseball would be far better for doing this.

So I have written it and “so let it be done!”

Second Chances


His name was McKenna and he was without question the best pitcher in the league. He was a lefty with an amazing fastball and a curve that seemed to fall off a table.

McKenna played for our rivals. He crushed hitters. Our teams were rated one (his) and two (mine) by the New York City newspapers that covered local sports.

I was a part of a recruited team—yes, recruited, as the coaches scoured the City for the best players they could sign up—playing in one of New York City’s elite baseball leagues. I think I was 15 years old and most of the players were a year or two older than I. Didn’t matter. I batted second and played shortstop. I was a damn good player even in the elite leagues.

We played McKenna’s team midway through the season. Both of our teams were undefeated, which was amazing because so many of these recruited teams were good and it was hard to stay undefeated.

My father always attended my games. He’d give me advice. I’d listen intently. He knew his stuff. He was a good father and a good coach.

So our undefeated teams met at Marine Park in Brooklyn. They beat us 1-0. Why did they beat us? Because of me; completely and utterly because of me. That’s right. I struck out three times with runners on base. I made the error that let in the one run that lost the game for us. I was awful. I was embarrassing.

I didn’t know McKenna as a person; he was an opponent. The third time I struck out—looking as if I should never have left the stickball games in the school yards—I could see the sneer on his face. He had a cold, hard face. He was a good-looking kid, just like the cool, blond villain that the girls liked in the movie Karate Kid. He had his beautiful girlfriend at the game. She laughed and cheered, especially when I went down on strikes. I didn’t have a girlfriend.

I just couldn’t hit the damn guy. It was as if his pitches had magic.

After that third strikeout I couldn’t find my father in the stands. I looked out and way in the distance I finally saw him. I walked down the third base line and shouted to him, “What are you doing?”

“I’m digging a hole,” he said.

I had to laugh a little. I could certainly throw myself into a hole. Just bury me.

Striking out three times—three times!—was a disgrace. It meant the pitcher dominated you. Today’s players don’t seem to be upset as they ring up strikeouts one after another but for me? I was, despite laughing at my father’s quip, ready to hide from the world. Yes, indeed, dig me a deep hole.

And we’d have to play his team again at the end of the season.

No one beat us the rest of the season, so in our last game we had only one loss. I was having a good hitting season and my fielding was excellent. The error in the McKenna game was the only error I had committed the whole season.

McKenna’s team lost one game during this time—a game he didn’t pitch—so both of our teams were tied with identical records. Everything hinged on this game; this one finalgame.

In the month between my total humiliation and this upcoming decisive game I thought of McKenna a lot. I thought of his sneer. I thought about how embarrassing my first run-in with him had been. Strikeouts, the error that cost us the game…the worst I have ever played a game. I could see his girlfriend laughing and jumping up and down as he destroyed me.

Now the encore:

In the car, driving to the game, my father said, “Baseball gives you a chance to come back and redeem yourself. You will own McKenna today; you will own him. Oh, and I left my shovel at home so you have to own him.” Did my father really believe that? Would I be even able to touch the ball as it flew towards me? Did he really leave his imaginary shovel at home?

I knew that on McKenna’s fastball I kept swinging under the ball. I had to get my swing level with the pitch. How to do that?

I had read about Ted Williams saying that when you go up against a fast pitcher, you have to swing for the very top of the ball; even try to miss over the top. On a fast pitch, swinging for the top or above the top of the ball would mean the swing would actually land in the middle. In short, if your swing can’t get up high, then aim higher!

I practiced that at a local batting cage – spending all my hard-earned part-time money on a 100 mile-per-hour machine at the Rockaway Avenue Batting Range. Swinging high allowed me to own the machine. Of course, McKenna wasn’t a machine.

But what of McKenna’s curve ball? That damn thing was impossible to hit —seemingly impossible.  My father told me that Joe DiMaggio had said that the curveball was easy to hit if you could pick up the spin of the ball. So in batting practice I would have the pitchers throw nothing but curve balls to me. I learned to see the spin.

Now the moment of truth came calling as I walked to the field. This game was being played at the Parade Grounds in Brooklyn, the premier field that had fences and plenty of seating for the fans—and (wow!) there were plenty of fans at this game! It had been written about in the papers as the ultimate New York City baseball confrontation.

And here’s how it went:

I had anticipated being put at the end of the batting order, perhaps hitting seventh or eighth due to my previous encounter with McKenna. My coach came over to me.

“I’m changing the batting order,” he said.

Okay, I was prepared for this. I had failed miserably in my last confrontation against McKenna so down I’d go in the batting order.

“You are not hitting second today; you’re hitting third today. You’ve been creaming the ball lately so third you are!” he said.

And the game began. We were the home team and McKenna’s team came up first. It happened right away. Our pitcher loaded the bases with two walks and a single. There was one out and we were playing the infield in to try to stop a run. With McKenna pitching, one run could be the game—as it was last time.

A wicked line drive was hit to my right. I dived, caught the ball and then threw it with all my might to the third baseman to get the runner scrambling back to third base. A double play to end the inning!

McKenna walked our first batter, nicknamed Speedy because of his, yes, speed. Immediately Speedy stole second base. McKenna struck out the second batter and then it was my turn. Did I just see him sneer as I took my place at home plate? He was probably thinking he had destroyed me in the last game and he’d destroy me in this game too.

The first pitch was a blazing fastball and I swung above it. Bam! Into the outfield it went, a single, and Speedy scored from second. A double play ended the inning for us.

I hit two more singles that day, one off McKenna’s curve ball. I made several great plays at shortstop. Each of my singles—each one!—allowed us to score a run. We won 3-1.


In the previous game McKenna dominated me; today I dominated him. As my father had said, “You will own him today.” I did.

That season taught me that you often do get second chances in baseball and in life, but you just have to work hard to take advantage of them.

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Only One Babe

The greatest baseball player of all time was Babe Ruth. No one—not Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio or Stan Musial, and all those others you can name—can match the Sultan of Swat. Ruth was and still is the epitome of the baseball player.

I believe that in my previous article ( I laid to rest the concept that modern players are better than those of the past. Indeed, if anything, the past players may have been slightly better than today’s players.

Yes, baseball has gone through many changes since the Babe played the game. Stadiums are far smaller, allowing more home runs. Baseballs are livelier—some say they are now truly juiced; and many players have been juiced too. Pitchers are no longer expected to pitch nine innings. Relief pitchers have taken over much of the chores.

Experts maintain that today’s baseball players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before. Maybe they technically are—although in his best years the 6’2” Babe weighed only 222 pounds, the same height and weight as Barry Bonds. The image of the Babe as a blobby fat man wobbling around the bases is based more on his rounded face than his rounded body.

Additionally, the fact that today’s pitchers and many everyday players are injured so often might give pause to this idea that today’s players are supermen.

Baseball is a game of statistics. In fact, today there are so many statistics that one could spend almost a lifetime trying to figure what the hell the statisticians are encapsulating (ENCAP) in their formulas (FR). It could drive you insane (CRAZY).

But let me take just a few statistics that we (mostly) understand and I will show you just how good the Bambino was. Here is where he fits in with the all-time greats in terms of career averages.

SLG (Slugging): 690, number one all time

OPS (On Base Plus Slugging): 1.164, number one all time

WAR (Wins Against Replacement): 183.7, number one all time

RBI (Runs Batted In): 2214, number two all time

OBP (On Base Percentage): 474, number two all time

HR (Home Runs): 714, third all-time (There were seasons when the Babe hit more home runs than whole teams! No modern slugger has ever done that.)

BA (Batting Average): 342, ninth highest of all time

Now, keep this in mind. The other great players you can name rarely excel in so many categories. Many other homerun hitters did not have the lifetime batting average of the Babe. Those with higher averages did not whack very many home runs. And he was an excellent fielder too!

Are the above statistics the be-all and end-all of the Mighty Babe’s career? Hell, no. Babe was one of the greatest pitchers who ever played the game. Few of today’s baseball fans know this. Here are some of his lifetime pitching statistics:

ERA (earned run average) 17th all-time at 2.28 percent (Go online and compare his lifetime statistics with the best pitchers playing right now.)

W-L Record (Won-Lost Record): 94 wins-46 losses

WP (Winning Percentage): won 671 percent, 12th all time

And this: Consider how many great pitchers you can recall from the last 40 years. Now look up the statistics for them. Guess what you will find? They were probably not anywhere near as good as George Herman Ruth.

Yes, he could hit wonderfully and pitch spectacularly. Babe Ruth’s real nickname and the one he truly deserves is The Greatest of All Time.


Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.





He Has a Girlfriend!

This past weekend I went to a Yankees versus Texas Rangers game. Yanks lost 8 to 1 but Aaron Judge hit a home run so the day wasn’t a total loss. He’s the most exciting player to hit baseball since Mike Trout.

This was my first time at the new Yankee Stadium. As a kid (long ago at an age far, far away) I used to inhabit the old Yankee Stadium; you know the one, where the center field distance was 490 feet and to hit a homer to left center (or even right center) took the power of a DiMaggio, Gehrig, Mantle or Ruth. Centerfield was known as “death valley.” When Maris had his 61-homerun streak, I attended 23 games. To my way of thinking, Maris set a “real” record, as he was steroid-free, unlike Barry Bonds and some others.

I was with my wife the Beautiful AP and Jerry “Stickman” and his wife the Sainted Tres. It was the last – number 30 – of the baseball stadiums Stickman and I visited in our Baseball Odyssey. Our wives joined us at a number of the ballparks and were certain to be at this capstone game.

We had $300 seats – yes 600 bucks to watch a Yankee game in seats that would cost about $60 to $90 in other stadiums. And $$$$$ to pay for our limo – way, way, too, too much.

Our seats were in row 15 over first base dugout, in the shade of the overhang. These comfortable seats were padded, two together, separated from the next two seats by a table, and you could order food that was delivered to you – food that cost the equivalent of what right-handed hitters faced in the old stadium, a helluva lot! And that is New York: a beautiful baseball stadium plopped in a ghetto and prices that are ridiculous.

The high ticket prices, however, could not keep away the worst fans ever. You know them; they’re the ones whose antics pull your attention away from the field and onto themselves.

In this case it was the beer-guzzling, 20-something man/boy who was compelled to yell out the name of a player followed by “you suck.”

“Natoli, you suck!”

“Beltre, you suck!”

Once per player was not enough, nor twice, nor three times. It was over and over and over again, throughout the entire game.

His target was not only Texas Rangers. He even threw a few Yanks in there as well, especially pitcher Tyler Clippard who seemed to suck more than all the players combined as poor Clippard gave up hit after hit and run after run in the game, “Clippard! You suck! You suck! You suck!” He was proud of that last load of “you suck” because, “He heard me that time.”

I asked Stickman, Tres and AP, “Can you believe he belongs to the same species that achieved space flight?” Still later I asked incredulously, “Can you believe he came from the same species that discovered penicillin?”

After a particularly loud and pointed, “You suck,” hurled at a Texas Ranger, this guy’s girlfriend squealed at his amazing wit. Yes, he has a girlfriend. They will reproduce one day and his mini-me will be weaned on baseball, beer and boorishness.

It sucks, doesn’t it?

Miami Is Another Country

In New York City you have different neighborhoods some dominated by Italians, some by Jews, some by Germans, some by Afro-Americans, some by Puerto Ricans, some by Irish, some by Indians and some by a whole combination of these and more ethnic groups. While you might hear foreign languages in many places, there are so many of them in New York that the City has true diversity – although diversity has no inherently good moral quality.

Not so with Miami.

When people call the city “little Cuba” they mean it. The U.S. Census has Miami’s Latin / Hispanic population at 70 percent (some define themselves as Hispanic white or Hispanic black), while almost 20 percent of the population is Afro-American.

About 22 percent of the population is Catholic, although a full 60 percent of the population considers itself non-religious. While the state of Florida is sometimes called “little Israel,” only a shade over one percent in Miami are Jewish. (In New York City we have a rapidly shrinking “little Italy,” a little “Chinatown,” a “little Korea,” a “little India,” a little Beirut – for the lower streets of Bay Ridge – and on it goes. Hey, in New York, you get a “little” of something or other all the time!)

Spanish seems to be the dominant language, which pleased my wife the Beautiful A.P. as she speaks Spanish. As for me, I just stand there smiling as she enjoys conversation after conversation. She could be talking to someone about his family being murdered and I stand there with a goofy grin on my face. I am sure some Miamians thought I was a total idiot.

In Miami I was in a different country, a vacation-touristy-type country, meaning a pretty Latin American or island country given the weather, the Palm trees, the ocean, the sands, the Spanish speakers and the architecture; plus all the beautiful people, those tanned men and tanned women posing in skimpy bathing suits at the beaches (particularly South Beach), or at the pools, often holding drinks in their hands as if they were in commercials.

Being there in late September was – to put it frankly – awful, absolutely awful. The temperatures hovered in the high 80’s and low 90’s, while the humidity was at steam bath levels. I sweated like crazy. Maybe that’s why so many of the beautiful people walked around almost naked. Even some of the non-beautiful people were almost naked too – not a pleasant sight.

We stayed at the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel in Coconut Grove.

I had already stayed at a Sonesta in Baltimore and loved its old world, classy style. The Coconut Grove Sonesta at first seemed less appealing but by the third day I loved the place. It was clean, had a great restaurant, pool and terrific views from one’s room. Our traveling companions Jerry “Stickman” and his wife the Lovely Tres, along with the Beautiful A.P. and I would sit on our adjoining balconies, watch the sunsets, the ocean, while drinking fine wines.

Our meals went from good to great; from gourmet to not-so gourmet. The first night we ate at Bombay Darbar (, an exceptional Indian restaurant. The following day we ate lunch at a good Cuban restaurant in South Beach, Puerto Sagua.

Thankfully I did not go into the men’s room at Sagua until after lunch. It was covered in graffiti – with graffiti on top of graffiti (all of it un-artistic). The stall toilet was covered in shit and someone had taken a small dump in the urinal. The place stunk. Had I gone to the bathroom before lunch I would have left the restaurant.

Prior to eating at Puerto Sagua, we toured South Beach with Art Deco Tours with Christine and Company. ( Christine is a vivacious young woman with a true love for Miami and her tour was excellent. I recommend it highly.

That night we ate at a French restaurant La Plame d’Or at the Biltmore Hotel. Terrific gourmet with excellent ambience.

One of the reasons we went to Miami was for Stickman and me to attend a Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball game and a Miami Marlins’ baseball game. So on Sunday morning Stickman and I headed to Tampa Bay (St. Petersburg) – a four-hour trip from Miami – to watch Tampa Bay take on the Baltimore Orioles.

We had breakfast at Sonesta’s excellent Panorama restaurant and at 8am off we went. The wives would have their day in Miami; while we’d be continuing our baseball odyssey.

Going to Tampa Bay became an ordeal. Suddenly, out of nowhere (so to speak) I had to go to the bathroom; go urgently, as in the saying, “If I don’t go now I will explode in the car.”

“Jerry,” I said, holding myself in. “Pull over. I can’t hold this.” Jerry Stickman pulled over and I squatted beside the car. EXPLOSION! The road we were on went through the Everglades so there were no houses anywhere; just swamps and grasses and small trees as far as the eye could see, with a stream running beside the road. There was a big, electrified fence between the side of the road (where I squatted) and the stream. It didn’t dawn on me just then why such an electrified fence was there. EXPLOSION!

The cars coming towards us on our side of the highway could catch a glimpse of me squatting the way the Japanese squat over their floor-level toilets. EXPLOSION!

“Aaaaarrrrrggghhhhh,” I said inside myself. What could I do? Cars flashed by. (“Mommy, that man is showing his rear end.” “Timmy don’t look.” “Oh God, Sarah, he just blew a big one onto the ground!”)

As I was finishing up, I noticed it – an alligator, a BIG nasty-looking alligator, staring at me from the stream parallel to the road. Oh, my God, I was already embarrassed by the fact that I had dumped my brains out; now I would be eaten by an alligator. I could see the headlines: “Famous Writer Eaten by Alligator after Having Loose Bowel Movement on the Side of the Road!”

As I pulled my pants up, I realized now why the electrified fence had been erected – to protect humans from alligators!

Getting in the car, Stickman said, “Well, that’s a first for me!”

“I’m mortified.”

“On we go!” he said.

Ten minutes later, I said: “I gotta go again.”

“There’s a rest area coming up,” said Stickman.

We made it and I made it too. EXPLOSION!

We had to stop a third time at a gas station and I literally battled several elderly men to get into a stall. “You son of a bitch,” said one old guy I pushed aside. EXPLOSION! “Oh, man; oh, Christ,” said another man. “You smell that?” EXPLOSION!

Thankfully, the gas station had a sundry store with a mountain of Imodium piled high on the counter. Evidently I was not the only one to experience what I had been experiencing. I took two.

“I think I will be all right,” I said.

“This has been a first for me,” said Jerry again.

“I’ll never live this down.”

“Can’t wait to read what you write about this,” said Jerry Stickman.

“You crazy? I’m not writing about this.”

The Tampa Bay game was fun. Stickman bought us Diamond Club seats. You had your own private club with all sorts of food and drinks, all covered by your ticket fee. Jerry had a great time; eating and drinking and eating and drinking and eating a little fruit and a huge stack of cookies for dessert – he got his money’s worth. I ate a couple of cookies fearing anything more might start me going again. Those were the most expensive cookies I ever ate.

We got back to Miami around 8:30pm; sat on our balcony with our wives and as he poured the wine Jerry said, “Frank has a great story ladies. It was an amazing trip to Tampa Bay.”

“Oh, yeah, I really wish you could have come along,” I said. They were anxious to hear about our wonderful trip – and I told them. Their faces went from anxious to horrified. Evidently I can tell a great story.

The Beautiful A.P. and the Lovely Tres left Miami early Monday morning. Jerry Stickman and I stayed in order to go to the Miami Marlin’s game that night.

Now I must admit this. I have a small quirk in my personality. I love to go to aquariums when I visit a city. Lately, I’ve dragged Jerry to aquariums in Chicago, Memphis, Baltimore and Hawaii, among others. So today we would go to Miami’s Seaquarium. (

We took our wives to the airport at 5am, went back to Sonesta, finished our evening’s interrupted sleep, had breakfast and headed out to Seaquarium.

Of course, the day was brutally hot and drippingly humid. We figured the aquarium would be indoors and therefore air conditioned. That had saved us in a hot, humid Honolulu, Hawaii. We’d relax, watch the fish swim; in short, have a comfortable indoor day.

The Miami Seaquarium was outdoors.

It was not the typical aquarium with indoor rooms filled with tanks of various sizes; instead it was a world of shows. Jerry and I saw the Sea Lion Show (great fun), the Killer Whale and Dolphin Show (spectacular – and by the way, Killer Whales – also known as Orcas – are not whales but dolphins) and the Dolphin Show (disappointing). We also visited the weird looking Manatees (often thought to be mermaids – ugly as hell mermaids) and watched them eat bushels of lettuce. We saw giant sea turtles and a whole area of alligators – an animal now associated with the worst crap of my life.

It was a fun time.

Now let me tell you about Jerry “Stickman’s” quirk. He is an eater of food that I would normally avoid. He loves fast food chains (the man even eats White Castle!) and he watches shows like “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and “Burger Land with George Motz.” Jerry is also a world traveler. He and the Lovely Tres probably spend as much time on the road as they do at home. I think he has been to about two-thirds of the countries in the world. He’s been to every state too. One of Jerry’s favorite activities when he travels in America and Canada is to visit the recommended restaurants on those shows. Sooooo…

We went into Little Havana to eat lunch at El Rey De Las Fritas, a highly recommended restaurant where we would eat a supposedly unique Frita.

Little Havana is a sad area of Miami. Just about every house and store had safety bars on the doors and windows. Still, Jerry and I had the greatest Frita! I have never tasted a hamburger like that. So if you are in Miami check this place out. The restaurant was clean and it is in a little shopping center.

Got back to the hotel, took a nap and then headed for the Marlins’ ballgame. We were two of about 3,000 fans. Miami is not a baseball town.

That was our trip. It was a fun four-day visit (except for when I was you-know-whating).

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

What Happened to the Negro League?

This is really a sensitive – as in very sensitive – issue, and I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what and why I am writing this. It is about how a really good thing – a thing that had to be done – can also have unintended bad consequences. (The good thing outweighs the bad consequences here but the bad exists nevertheless.)

I just finished watching the movie 42 which I enjoyed. I saw Jackie Robinson play — I was really, really young — and my father had nothing but praise for the man. I remember my father saying, “It takes courage to do what he is doing.” My father was a Jackie Robinson fan. I only had a vague idea of what he was talking about.

I even had some conversations once with Roy Campanella, who was injured in a terrible automobile accident. I worked as a maintenance man in the Smith Houses in Manhattan for four summers as a high school and college student and that is where I met him. He was paralyzed and in a wheelchair. By then I knew what he and the other black pioneers had meant to major league baseball. It meant the joy of watching Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in the outfield.

“Campy” joined the Brooklyn Dodgers just after Robinson broke the color barrier.

And now for the sensitive part of this article: Whatever happened to the ball players from the Negro leagues that were not good enough to make the major leagues? What happened to the white players who were replaced by the better black players?

I know the Negro Leagues ended soon after the integration of major league baseball. I know most of their players did not make the major leagues. I know the white players who were replaced by better black players did not play in the majors once the color barrier was broken.

The good was accompanied by the end of employment for those who would have played professional baseball but were now just not talented and skilled enough to make it all the way to the new, and better, major leagues.

American baseball today has players from all over the world; South America, Mexico, Canada, Latin America, Cuba, Japan. The painting of today’s major leagues is a medley of colors and ethnic groups. The best of the best will face off against each other for 162 games.

Yes, integration was good for the quality of the game (and for our society) but it had a cost – as many good things have costs – and we must recognize that getting better does not make everyone become part of that betterment. That is why I am a firm supporter of those Negro league museums. We mustn’t forget those guys, especially the great ones who never got to the major leagues because of racism or the ones just not good enough to get there once the game opened its doors.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

It Snowed in Denver!


My God, it snowed in Denver on April 28th and 29th, cancelling the 27th game Jerry “Stickman” and I were to attend on our see-every-stadium-in-America tour. So far this was the only cancellation we experienced in 29 stadiums. (There are 30 major league baseball stadiums,)

Seriously, snow at the end of April!

Should Denver even be allowed to have a major league baseball team? Come on; put a roof over the damn stadium. Also take care of your homeless problem as there were dozens of homeless on seemingly every block in Denver’s downtown area. Hey, have the homeless build the roof as that might help them and major league baseball fans too!

This trip saw us first on a two-day visit where we saw a game at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, a stadium where the lights went zip-zap right into your eyes so that just about every fly ball was un-see-able. Hot, humid, flooding Houston, a city built on a swamp (why build cities on swamps?), and the game was so uncomfortable because of those lights that we left after six innings, blinded and depressed (well, my wife the Beautiful AP and I were blinded and depressed; Stickman and his wife the Sainted Tres didn’t comment).

Next stop was Dallas for a couple of days to visit our niece Melanie, her husband Damian and their two children, their son D3 (Damien III) age 3.5 (you have to put the “point” in—3 point 5—as little kids always want to grow up fast and little do they know most of us grown-ups want to grow-down just as fast) and their daughter Holly, age eight months, who doesn’t have much of an opinion about age yet. These are two happy, well-behaved, joyful kids. And that’s because they have two happy, well-behaved, joyful parents.

Dallas was somewhat different from Houston, it was hotter and wetter and the news was broadcasting that thunder storms, tornadoes and hail the size of D3’s head were probably going to hit us during game time—if there were a game that is. But there was a game that night.

Dallas Globe Life Park was hung with heavy clouds and the scent of death (okay, okay, it was just heavily cloudy; I like to be dramatic). Still, all four of us knew that Dallas Globe Life Park was not the place to be when a raging tornado came down from the sky. In fact, if there were many deaths the name of the stadium would be changed to Dallas Globe Death Park.

Indeed, the Dallas stadium director had the upper deck cleared of fans during the game. Man, these Texans aren’t afraid of death; maybe it’s all that bronco busting.

This game was special to me as it would be my first chance to see my beloved Yankees on the road. Fat lot of good; they were creamed 10 to one by a team not afraid to play life-and-death with their fans and themselves.

Usually Stickman and I root for the home teams to prevent fanatical home-team fans from taking the opportunity to pummel us for not doing so. We learned this in Philadelphia when the drunken Philly fans were shouting to kill the visiting team’s fans. Philadelphia fans are notorious for being notorious.

But I had to root for the Yankees! I just had to! But my friend (my friend, my pal, my buddy, that traitor), the Stickman, stuck with the home team. His team won. My team got clobbered.

Next morning off to Denver where our plane dipped so far and so fast that the flight attendants, who were serving at the time, had to hit the floor after almost hitting the ceiling. They stayed prone on the floor for about 10 minutes until given the all clear by the pilot. Drinks and food went flying all over the place and my wife was relieved that she had ordered water and not coffee.

That should have alerted me to the fact that Denver was to be the game that would not be.

We had a good time in Denver (kind of). The snow, mixed with a thick-snowy-kind of rain did postpone the baseball game at Coors Field to a time that we couldn’t attend. Although, the precipitation continued non-stop for our three days, we got to see a great little National Baseball Museum and an amazing Denver Nature and Science Museum with the best dinosaur bones I’ve ever seen. I’m all for bringing dinosaurs back ala Jurassic Park. And the Beautiful AP got to visit the seven-story Denver Public Library that has its own social workers to help the homeless who try to make a home out of the library.

Our wives returned home and Stickman and I headed to the last two ballparks for this trip, St. Louis’ Busch Stadium and Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium (one of the top four stadiums we’ve seen).

Both of these teams, the Cardinals and the Royals, lost to the current National League juggernaut, the Washington Nationals.

After the Royals game which ended about 10 p.m., Stickman and I walked the 10 miles back to our hotel (okay, okay, it was a half mile, but I was tired) and we had to awaken at 2:30 a.m. to get to the Kansas City International Airport in time for my 5:30 and his 6:30 flight. Stickman likes to get to the airport early since (as the old saying goes) “You can’t miss a flight by being early,” although he actually did once miss a flight when he was early because he fell asleep in the terminal.

Stickman drove our rental SUV to the airport. Since it was 3 o’clock in the morning there were not too many cars on the highway. Thank the Lord!

Now, Stickman is a good driver. He is. He is a very good driver. In fact, he is an amazingly very good driver. Oh, yes, and, uh, fast. A very fast driver. Lightning. And a daring driver. A very daring driver.

And when he is not a 100 percent certain where to go he uses his GPS device.

You would consider that a smart way to drive, right? Yes, of course; except he holds it in his hand and has to constantly look down to see if his direction is correct. Driving about 1,000 miles per hour, in the night, without his high beams on, he reads his GPS.

And when the car drifts to the right and sometimes to the left and sometimes into the next lane, he corrects its direction when he bothers to look up.

And me? What of me? What am I doing when he’s doing what he’s doing? With closed eyes I often pray to Jesus, God, or any divine being that would let me live.

But we make it to the airport (thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you) and the damn place is closed! I’m not kidding. At 4 a.m. the Kansas City “International” Airport is closed! Do “international” airports close?

And add to this the fact that the whole huge complex that houses all the car-rental companies is open, but no one is there. We just leave the keys on a desk. Again, there are no human beings around. I wondered if we were in a zombie apocalypse.

But the shuttle bus was there, with a living driver, and he took us to the Delta terminal which had miraculously opened. Two TSA agents were outside the building smoking. They saw us and hustled inside.

Stickman was heading to Memphis via Detroit and I to New York via Atlanta. I’d go home to hug and kiss my wife whom I missed as if I had been away from her for two years instead of two days.

But in Atlanta two women, young, pretty and bejeweled like Cleopatra, got on the plane and for the one-hour and 39 minutes of our air time, they talked about nothing but how rich their husbands were and how much money they had.

Every chance they got, they flashed their huge (read: HUGE) baubles at the flight attendants while demanding more service. I couldn’t sleep on the plane because their behavior fascinated me in a repulsive way.

I got home. Kissed and hugged my wife and then…fell dead asleep.

Yes, it snowed in Denver.

[Read Frank’s new book Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! On sale at, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and at bookstores.]