Play With What You Have

When the great New York Yankee Hall of Fame baseball player Phil Rizzuto died, the papers were filled with stories about how such a short guy – Rizzuto was “just” 5’6” – had overcome his height disadvantage to achieve such big things.  He was an all-star, an MVP, won ten pennants and eight World Series during his 13 years with the Yankees. He was described as a “winner” in baseball and in life.

On Rizzuto’s plaque at the Yankee Stadium Memorial Park it reads: “A man’s size is measured by his heart.”

That got me to thinking. Was being 5’6” a disadvantage in baseball or in life? I am 5’6” and I never felt that I was short. I never made comments about being short or jokes about myself as some short people do. Indeed, it never occurred to me to do those things.

In my mind I was the right height. People who were taller than I were tall; people who were shorter than I were short. I played basketball; I played baseball. I played with and against the best players in New York City. I never felt as if I had to overcome anything. I just played to the best of my ability.

Intellectually I now realize that I am on the short part of the height continuum but in my head I still have that “I am the right size and everyone else is either tall or short.”

Casino players can learn a lot from Phil Rizzuto. You play the game with what you’ve got and in casino terms that specifically means with the bankroll you’ve got for actually playing such games. You can’t wish and hope to have more money to play with because that makes you feel bad about yourself. What has the size of your bankroll got to do with anything? You are who you are. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The casinos, obviously, are skillfully designed to reward those players who bet (and lose) large sums of money. But it does not follow that the player who loses large sums of money is a better player than someone who loses small sums of money – how good a player you are is not determined by the size of your bets but by the strategies and decisions you make.

I’ve seen many of those high rolling players using strategies that were so awful you wanted to shake them by the collar and say, “You are throwing your money away!” And I have seen mere five dollar players engaging in tight contests with the casinos. Of the two types of players, which is to be respected? The answer is obvious.

If a high roller doesn’t use basic strategy at blackjack; if that roller makes high house edge bets at craps; if he plays low payback slots and video poker machines; if he uses his “intuition” to guess what trends are about to appear or disappear, this person is large all right – he is a large fool.

The small wagering player who knows how to play the games the right way – using all the tools the casino allows to reduce the house edge to its minimum – is really a large player indeed. It is not the size of the bankroll that counts; it is the intelligence in which it is used.

Often in the casino atmosphere the red-chip player wishes he were a green-chip player and the green-chip player wishes he were a black-chip player and the black-chip player wishes he were a purple-chip player and the purple-chip player wishes he were an orange-chip player (and on it goes) – that is a caste system that must be discarded in order to play the games properly. Wishing you were someone else is not going to make you a better player. Learning the proper playing strategies will.

So let the casinos put people in castes, that’s their business; to get people to bet more, play longer, in order to “impress” the casino comp raters; but your business as a savvy player is to play perfectly with the money you have and ignore all the other players playing higher denominations and not worry about comps.

Phil Rizzuto played the game the best he could with all his ability. That made him a Hall of Famer. That made him a winner. Height be damned!

If you want to enter the casino Hall of Fame than you must play with what you’ve got and you must play the perfect strategies. There is no shortage of good betting strategies that follow the math of the games; strategies that give you a real chance to bring home the casinos’ money.

Phil Rizzuto’s object was to win games and that should be your object too. You are your own standard of performance; no one else is. Be happy with what you’ve got and play accordingly.

All the best in and out of the casinos.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is His books are available on, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Join his email group!



You Can’t Go Home Again

I was walking alone in the Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve, which is a great adaptation of what was once a huge garbage dump. There are trails, great views, constant uphill walking—schlogging for me—as other folks are happily jogging. Families come here for fresh air, sunshine, and time away from electronic devices.

Although Levy Park & Preserve isn’t ranked among the best birding spots in Nassau County, one can see raptors, songbirds and water fowl…which is why we were there with the birding club.

I was separated from the members of the South Shore Audubon Society. This was our Sunday walk. I don’t know what happened to the group of at least 30 people. The party splintered and then vanished like magic. I had been walking with my wife, the Beautiful AP, and our friend Linda (a great Yankee fan!).

I turned onto a solitary path, a trail leading back to the parking lot. My walk was about two miles by this point and I was seeing some beautiful birds. I was checking out this tiny blue bird, light-bluish grey underbelly, dark blue stripes on his wings, which were blue as well. His beak….

Arrrrrrggggggggh! came the kid’s high-pitched scream. I want to go back! I want to go back! I want to go back! I want to go back to the parking lot! Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

The blue bird (meaning the bird of blue; my chance to identify it was cut short) flew into the thickets and I lost sight of it. Other songbirds made a hasty retreat.

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

Songbirds are skittish and they had all fled the scene, the loud scene made by this little…brat.

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

To this point it had been a leisurely walk with singing songbirds and even a raptor or two.

I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

The damn kid. That damn, stinking kid.

I know I should state here that I really, really like children. The problem is, I don’t. I like my two grandkids and my niece’s the three little kids, but that is about it. Except for my own kids and those five above, the rest I just find irritating. Three-year-olds (give or take some months) are obnoxious and insistent, as was this kid repetitively howling that he wanted to go back to the parking lot.

I want to go back! I want to go back!

There were steep hills in this park and no fences to stop a kid from going over the edge, where a fall of 30 or more feet would silence him if his put-upon daddy just gave him a little nudge…just like that. A tiny, almost imperceptible, nudge. The quietude and the songbirds would return. “No officer, I didn’t see anything. The kid probably pitched over the edge on his own. This park should really have fences to prevent lovable little children from falling to their silence…I mean, deaths.”

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back to the parking lot! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

Just before you get to the parking lot on this path, you pass a pen with all manner of goats. The apathetic goats looked at the screamer, unconcerned and unaffected. However, had they been released from their pen, would they have gored the little tyke? One could only fantasize.

And then the parking lot appeared. But The Stinking Kid Didn’t Shut Up. He howled a new refrain: I want to go home! I want to go home! I want to go home!

I wanted to share one of life’s truths, brilliantly captured by Thomas Wolfe; but such an insight would have been lost on a screaming mini-monster and his frazzled dad.

You can’t go home again.

Frank’s books are available on, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and at bookstores.

No Machado, No Way


The New York Yankees are considering getting Manny Machado, who played for the Los Angeles Dodger for a couple of months in 2018 and who played for the Baltimore Orioles for several years. They might want him to play shortstop and then third base when Didi Gregorius returns from surgery.

He is an all-star and a terrific player. No doubt about that.

They would be crazy to sign him.

He is a lazy player, much like Robinson Cano whom the Yankees got rid of a half decade ago to no fan puzzlement or upset. Why you ask? Because Robinson Cano was not, and still is not, a hustler. He trots out infield ground balls and shows no inclination to put it all on the line when he runs. That Is not good for the game or for your team.

According to some baseball analytics if you run full out to first base on ground balls you will add 20 base hits to your season totals. That’s more than enough to encourage a player to bust it down the line. It’s good for your team and it’s good for the player. Add that to the fact that you should have pride in yourself and never dog it.

Mr. Machado even bragged that he is not a hustling type of player by saying, “I’m not the type of player who is going to be Johnny Hustle.”

No he isn’t. He is the type of player who can sew discord on a team and in the minds of fans.

The Yankees have right now a team of hustlers. Guys who seem to get along and have that team spirit. A lazy player who doesn’t hustle and thinks he is a precious gem belongs on any other team except the Yankees. Those other teams can have him.

To the Yankees, pass this guy on by. We don’t need another Cano.

All of Frank’s books are available on, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and at bookstores.

Big and Little Irritations


My wife the Beautiful AP hates when I get on a soap box and start preaching but sometimes you’ve got to let some of your irritations go, even if they are only little ones. These are mostly little with a few big ones. I’m not going to pontificate on them (too much); I’m just going to state them. I am not, however, going to let my wife read this even though she is my first and most trusted editor because if she disagrees with something I write then I erase the damn thing because she is almost always right, damnit. (A major problem I have is a smart and beautiful wife. It can be so annoying.)

  1. First the Yankees. Mr. Cashman, save your money and go all out to get Mike Trout in two years. Then the Yankees go down with three of the four best centerfielders of all time: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout. Of course, New York Giants’ Willie Mays cannot be left off that list so I’ll pretend he was a Yankee. When Joe DiMaggio had his 56 game hitting streak he struck out about 13 times that season! (Derek Jeter averaged over 100 and Judge will be over 200 this year!) DiMaggio had to hit balls to left center in Yankee stadium which was (hold your breath) 460 feet away! Imagine the number of homers he would have hit today with fields that are all far shorter than they used to be?
  2. Empire Casino: I hate the commercials for the Empire Casino because they are out-and-out subterfuges accompanied by upbeat music. One is an idiot doing idiot things and winning and the commercial makes it look as if this is why he wins. A person could blow his nose and then win at a game; the two things are not related. The other commercial has five people simultaneously winning the biggest jackpots on their machines – each sitting next to each other. Never saw even two people win the monster jackpots sitting next to each other at the same time. I’ve written an entire article on this stuff for the 888 website for the fall season.
  3. Anti-semitism? Are you kidding? College campuses are rife with it. There is no dialogue about Israel or Jews. A pro-Israel student has to wear armor to open his or her mouth.
  4. No holocaust? On my block in Brooklyn my father’s friend Kaplan the Butcher had this crummy tattoo in his arm. Why would he put that crap on his arm? Navy guys had better tattoos. And then a group of women and men opened a supermarket three doors down from my father’s store. They all had those shitty tattoos. I asked my father about them and he said I had to be older to understand. I was a kid then; I’m older now and now I know what really happened to these people.
  5. Cable News: I have basically stopped watching news shows. I used to watch three of them; MSNBC, CNN and FOX (never network shows). I’ve jettisoned them from my life. I am now so cynical I can’t listen to any politician, no matter what persuasion, without realizing they are all (I do hope it is not all) crooks and phonies. I used to like New York State assemblyman Dean Skelos, he seemed very committed to the community – he’s on his way to prison! I now watch the major league baseball channel.
  6. DC Movies: People who say the movies about DC characters are all bad are not right. Some DC movies are excellent. Marvel is top dog with just about all of its movies but do not discount DC. I’ll have some articles on this in the future. (By the way, I wrote for Marvel when I was a college kid. Marvel was not the billion-dollar enterprise it is today. Maybe I gave that job up too soon?)
  7. New Cars: There is no such thing as a real price for a new car; just check out the commercials. Every month there is a new “sale” or “event” that saves everybody loads of cash. Are they kidding? Do these companies ever have a month that is billed as “no sale” or “no event”? The car companies have developed a message that is a subterfuge just as have some of the casino companies. (The Tru Network has a show titled Adam Ruins Everything that really looks into this car stuff.)
  8. Eating Well: I love eating at gourmet restaurants and at almost-gourmet restaurants, perhaps that’s why I am somewhat overweight (about 100 pounds) but I have avoided fast food and franchises. But my lovely wife the Beautiful AP and I were in a suburb in Austin, Texas a couple of months ago (she was in a violin sharing) and we didn’t feel like making the trek into Austin proper so we ate at – oh, my God! – Olive Garden and you know what? It was quite good. Not gourmet but the food was decent and the wait service was excellent. I wouldn’t hesitate to eat there again. Although I am not planning on going to Austin anytime soon.
  9. UFOs: I do not like UFOs, especially if they are alien space crafts, because – let’s face it folks – their technology is not much better than what we have. I also think if they are so advanced why do they have to shove stuff up the butts of the people they kidnap? And why can’t they just clone themselves or do some other fancy genetic something to save their race if they are dying out as abduction advocates advocate? Arthur C. Clarke said that advanced alien technology would seem like magic to us – well, there’s no magic in the UFOs, that’s for sure.
  10. Ghosts: They annoy the hell (or heaven) out of me too. These “spirits” go up and down hallways, time after time, and they do this, that or the other thing time after time. They are all idiots! There is no intelligence exhibited by any of them. What is Einstein’s ghost doing right now, cutting the hairs in his nose? And Stephen Hawking’s ghost? Is he just racing his wheelchair up and down a hall and jabbering idiotically? Leads me to conclude the shows – done in “night vision” for some idiotic reason – are just as idiotic as the ghosts that they pretend exist.

Thank you!

Read Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! Available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and 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?

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.]