February 23, 2012

Time to move

If you're stopping by here and wondering why there is nothing new up on the blog anymore, it's because this isn't the blog anymore. The Schmuck Stops Here has moved to a diffferent web address, so you have to go to your favorites menu -- if that's where you clicked on this site -- and delete the link. Then go here:

Then click on Add to Favorites. It'll be nice to have you back.

January 29, 2012

Terps: Happy days will be here again soon

The Maryland men's basketball team couldn't sustain a solid game against Duke and nearly let Saturday's victory over Virginia Tech slip away, but it's pretty obvious that the program is moving quickly in the right direction. The Terps are young and inexperienced, which was evident again in the final minutes yesterday, but they have enough talent to be reasonably competitive with all but the elite teams and things will only get better with the next incoming class of recruits.

What you're seeing right now is a team still learning how to play together. That's evident in the number of ill-advised shots that the Terps are taking and the number of uncontested points they are giving up in the paint -- particularly when fatigue starts to set in late in games. That's tough to watch sometimes, as it was when the Plumlee brothers were nailing down the victory for Duke, but it's part of the developmental progression that new coach Mark Turgeon knew the team would have to go through to get back to the upper reaches of the ACC.

That won't happen this year, but if you had told me the Terps would have 13 wins overall and be 3-3 in conference at this point in Turgeon's first season, I wouldn't have believed you. The Terps are ahead of schedule.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just baseball

January 26, 2012

Orioles: What Duquette is doing

There has been a lot of chatter on the various blogs and Orioles fan sites about the direction that Dan Duquette is taking the game in his first months as executive vice president, and a lot of it is pretty skeptical.

With good reason. The Orioles have spent the past decade half-stepping their way into oblivion, so fans have every right to wonder if Duquette is just playing to ownership's desire to keep the MASN spigot open and the payroll spigot closed. It's going to be up to him to prove that's not the case.

I think it's a little more complicated than that. Obviously, Duquette got the job because he convinced the search committee that he can make the team competitive by tapping into the second tier of the international market with a couple new sets of eyes overseas. The result has been a handful of signings that are intriguing but unspectacular, which means that we'll all have to wait and see how things shake out.

That's certainly convenient for the team and MASN, since it buys both some time to keep fans interested, but -- to his credit -- Duquette has not given himself a huge window to get results. He has followed up Andy MacPhail's four-year plan with a one-year plan, since he said at the outset that his goal is to be a winning team this year.

How will that be possible? Some feel that it isn't, considering that the Orioles didn't make any impact free agent acquisitions, but Duquette appears to be trying to do (in his own way) what Billy Beane did in Oakland in the early 2000s. He has thrown out a big net to add a bunch of contingent starting pitchers and role players, making the team much deeper in a lot of areas without necessarily making them much better.

He's stressing on-base percentage after inheriting a team with two of the league's biggest strikeout guys and farming the Pacific Rim to beef up the rotation and bullpen.

Will it work? Will Michael Lewis right a sequel called "Foreign Currencyball"? Orioles fans can only hope.

That will depend heavily, ironically enough, on the young pitchers who were already here. Duquette also is banking heavily on a successful comeback by Brian Matusz and the continued growth of Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton. If he gets that, the Orioles have a chance to be a .500 team, but isn't that what MacPhail was gambling on last spring?

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:12 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Just baseball

January 18, 2012

Orioles Pantheon

The Orioles just announced their promotional schedule for the upcoming season and I'm going to give them some love for the way they are unveiling the six statues of the six Hall of Famers who have had their numbers retired by the club.

The team will honor one of them each month of the season in order of the retirement of their uniform numbers, beginning with Frank Robinson on April and ending with Cal Ripken on Sept. 6 -- the anniversary of the night he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record. On each of those nights, the club will give every fan in attendance a 7-to-8-inch miniature replica of the statue being unveiled.

Can't think of a better way to do it. I realize the Orioles took a lot of heat for the Brooks statue situation -- and they deserved criticism for not being more publicly supportive of the project -- but that doesn't mean this can't be another nice honor for Brooks, Frank, Cal, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray. And it basically guarantees six huge crowds at Camden Yards, so everybody wins.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 9:53 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Just baseball

January 14, 2012

NFC: Simply incredible

The San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints just put on a show for the ages. The Saints rallied from a mistake-riddled first half and an early 17-point deficit to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, and then the two teams traded lightning touchdown drives until the 49ers won the game on a terrific throw and catch from Alex Smith to former Maryland star Vernon Davis with nine seconds left.

Simply amazing. The two teams scored four touchdowns in the final four minutes, and it looked like the Saints were going to pull it out when Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham for 66 yards and his second touchdown of the game with 1:48 to go. But Smith connected with Davis for 47 yards to get into field goal range and then took one shot for the win.

Don't know about you, but it was one of the greatest playoff games I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of them. I'd like to think the Patriots/Broncos game tonight will deliver some drama, but it doesn't look like it's shaping up that way.

Oh well, the Ravens probably will have to go through Foxboro to get to Indianapolis, but they've beaten the Pats there in in the playoffs before.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 8:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

January 11, 2012

Great Scott: The Orioles just got less interesting

Frankly, I have no idea how the loss of Luke Scott is going to affect the Orioles. It all depends on whether Scott would have have made a successful comeback from the shoulder injury that cost him a chunk of the 2011 season. I suspect he would have come back healthy, because nobody works harder to get in shape and stay there, but it's still hard to say whether this is going to be a significant loss.

What I do know is that the clubhouse just got less interesting. Scott was fearlessly outspoken, which ruffled a lot of feathers around here. He questioned President Barack Obama's citizenship and regularly preached the joys of both his evangelical Christianity and the Second Amendment. In the great liberal stronghold that is Maryland, he certainly alienated his share of fans, but if you got a chance to meet him it was impossible not to like him.

He'll have a new audience in South Florida, and I'm sure the local media will have some fun with his occasional opinions on the presidential race. I'll miss his unsinkable optimism, his unbelievable hot streaks and his mammoth home runs. I won't miss his unbelievable six-week hitting slumps or his footwork at first base.

The Orioles still have more than a month to add another power bat, if that's really what Dan Duquette intends to do. I'm guessing Buck Showalter will turn left field over to Nolan Reimold and give him an extended chance to re-establish himself as the player he was in 2009. The DH slot remains problematic, though Showalter has indicated that he would like to rotate some regulars through it to spell them in the field.

That's may be the plan, but one more power bat certainly wouldn't hurt.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 2:30 PM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Just baseball

January 9, 2012

Don't wish too hard...

Everybody -- including me -- wanted the Ravens to play the Texans this Sunday in the first home playoff game of the John Harbaugh era, but if you think that this is a walkover matchup for the Ravens, think again.

The Texans have a lot going for them, including -- not except for -- rookie quarterback T.J. Yates. While everybody has been swooning over Tim Tebow the last few weeks, Houston's third-string quarterback has held things together and kept the Texans on track for an upper-half seed in the postseason.

He looked pretty good against the Bengals and he's got Arian Foster to keep the pressure off him. The Texans could jump up and bite the Ravens in the tail-feather area if Joe Flacco spends too much time going downfield on third and short and wastes a bunch of possessions.

Don't misunderstand. Given the choice among the available opponents going into this past weekend, I chose the Texans, but only because I never imagined that Tebow and the Broncos ewould be available. Certainly, I'd rather have Denver coming here and the Patriots playing the Bengals, but the planets are only going to line up so much and then it's up to the Ravens to just win.

Will they? I would think so. They're 8-0 at home this year and Harbaugh is undefeated after his four regular-season bye weeks. They beat the Texans by 15 points at home earlier this season, and that was when Matt Schaub was healthy. Yes, they should win, but that doesn't mean they will, so let's hold the Tom Brady talk until after the game.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:36 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Just football

January 5, 2012

Bring on the Texans

My gut tells me that the Cincinnati Bengals can take the Texans on the road this weekend, but I think it would help the Ravens' chances of reaching the Super Bowl if Houston was the first team to visit M&T Bank Stadium for a playoff game during the John Harbaugh era.

That's open to debate, of course. The Steelers likely will show up here if the Bengals win, and I know a lot of fans think this would be a great time to catch them. The Steelers are very banged up and will be playing with a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger and without Rashard Mendenhall, so they might not even get past the Broncos. If they do, however, I'd like to see them face the Patriots and give both of those teams a chance to punch themselves out before the AFC championship game.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 1:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Just football

December 30, 2011

Bengals are a scary proposition, but...

It's almost hard to believe that the 2011 regular season has come down to this, since there were several seemingly golden opportunities for the Ravens to lock up a high playoff seed a lot earlier.

No use crying about it. The Ravens have not played well on the road and need a victory over the Bengals on Sunday to finish with a .500 record away from M&T Bank Stadium. That will be no small feat with all the issues that John Harbaugh and the Ravens staff have had to deal with the past week or two, but I do believe the Ravens are the better team, so I'm still picking them to win.

The case can be made that the Bengals have more to play for, but I'm not buying that. Obviously, the Bengals want to get to the playoffs, but they aren't a real Super Bowl contender. If they get in, they'll have to win three straight playoff games on the road, which is asking way too much of a team that hasn't beaten anybody of consequence this year.

The Ravens could face the same fate if they don't beat the Bengals, but they are an experienced playoff team that has beaten a lot of good teams on the road in the regular and postseason over the past four seasons.

If the Ravens win, however, they will be in position for a very strong Super Bowl bid. I think that should give them the edge in the motivation department.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 1:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

December 24, 2011

Ravens fans dreaming of a Purple Christmas

Clearly, no one is feeling terribly apprehensive about today's game against the Cleveland Browns, who will be starting Seneca Wallace at quarterback and playing for absolutely nothing on a day they'd rather be home with their families.

This ought to be an episode of "Fear Factor" for them, because the Ravens are still smarting from last week's embarrassing loss to the San Diego Chargers and are going to be very motivated to put on a big offensive and defensive show.

The spread on this game is almost two touchdowns and it's still pretty attractive. I'll be very surprised if the Browns score a touchdown today. I won't be surprised if they don't score at all. The only way this is a game is if the Ravens get into the egg nog too early.

So, go ahead, enjoy this Christmas treat, because the angst will return in earnest on Monday when the Ravens start preparing to play the Bengals in Cincinnati in the final game of the regular season. That's no gimme, and it might just determine whether the Ravens have a real chance to reach the Super Bowl.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 8:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

December 15, 2011

Duquette's global ambitions

New baseball operations guru Dan Duquette has made no secret of his desire to make international player development a high priority in the Orioles organization, so the pursuit of several Asian pitchers should not be considered surprising and should not necessarily be criticized.

Perhaps Duquette -- unlike some his predecessors -- simply is being realistic and recognizing that none of the best free agents are going to come to Baltimore at just about any price unless he can show them that the club is close enough to being competitive for them to make a real difference.

Of course, all that depends on the Orioles signing foreign (and domestic) players who make a contribution, and every one of the players coming out of Japan, Taiwan and Korea -- with the possible exception of Yu Darvish -- is a gamble. It's almost impossible to predict what they will do in the American major leagues, but if Duquette guesses right, he's got a chance to have a book written about him in a few years.

Maybe they'll call it "Yen-ball."

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 9:46 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Just baseball

December 10, 2011

Navy holds on

It was a sloppy game that featured five turnovers (by both teams) and an off-side penalty on Army that iced the game for the Midshipman, but in this rivalry, a win is a win. The Midshipman took advantage of those mistakes and two late field goals by kicker Jon Teague to defeat the Black Knights for the 10th consecutive time.

What a finish for Teague, who had suffered through a very frustrating season that featured more special teams breakdowns and blocked kicks than he'd prefer to remember. I'll be weighing in on his big day in my column for the Web site and the Sunday print edition.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 5:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

Navy back on top...No, wait!

Army's Black Knights appeared to be falling out of the 112th Army-Navy Game in the second quarter, but they rallied for two touchdowns to tie the game at 14-14 going into intermission. The Midshipmen have answered back at the start of the second half, taking advantage of a 48-yard kickoff return by Alexander Teich to score on their first possession.

Kriss Proctor went in from two yards out for his second touchdown of the game to give Navy a 21-14 lead, but this game seems to be building up to an exciting finish. Army quarterback Trent Steelman just threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Brown to tie the game.

That was just the second completed pass of the game.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 4:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

Navy on board

Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor just scored on a keeper play to get the Mids on the scoreboard first. It took most of the first quarter for anyone to score, because Navy fumbled the ball deep in Army territory to end a sustained drive. The Black Knights returned the favor a few minutes later and Navy pounded the ball in with about a minute left in the quarter.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama made an appearance in the CBS broadcast booth. Obama is spending the first half of the game on the Navy side of the field. He will switch to the Army side at halftime.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 3:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Just football

America's Game

Even though this is the 112th edition of the Army-Navy Game, it's hard not to get pumped up about it when you witness the pageantry -- from the morning march on by the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen to the moment when the President of the United States marches to the middle of the field to toss the coin.

For the record, Army called "tails" and it was tails. Navy, wearing blue jerseys and white helmets decorated with a gold anchor, kicked off.

President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden were joined on the field by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other Washington dignitaries. No doubt, the Cadets and Mids were eager for the game to begin, since they have been in their seats in the 36-degree cold.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 2:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

Army-Navy: These are the real heroes

Of course, I don't have to remind anybody on this blog of that. With Annapolis right in the neighborhood, we all appreciate the contribution every student at the Naval Academy and West Point makes to our country. The football players will get a little more attention today, but the entire Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen is in the house to celebrate this friendly rivalry that dates back to 1890.

If you're keeping historical score at home. That was the year Idaho and Wyoming were admitted to the union and Yosemite National Park was created by an act of Congress. Before you give me credit for being a fount of arcane information, I lifted those facts from the year-by-year section of the game program.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: News of the day

December 7, 2011

MLB: Fashion sense to be enforced

Major League Baseball has released new dress guidelines for the media, which include admonitions against flip flops and exposed underwear at the ballpark. I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay on the underwear front.

The dress code apparently is directed at people who dress unprofessionally, whether it be wearing team logo stuff, beachwear or skimpy attire. Hopefully, the NFL won’t follow suit or there will be no reason to go to Super Bowl Media Day.

For me, there’s a gender equity issue here. If the reporter sitting next to me can wear open-toe high heels to the game (and I’m talking about you, Roch), then why can’t I wear a $50 pair of fancy Reef flip flops?

Personally, I think the powers that be have a lot better things to do that worry about how I’m dressed. It’s not like they’re going to hang my portrait in The Louvre no matter what I’m wearing.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:33 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Schmuck being Schmuck

December 4, 2011

Orioles: Meetings getting underway

The Winter Meetings officially start tomorrow, but you'll hear some Orioles news late this afternoon after the O's contingent settles into its temporary headquarters at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas.

General manager Dan Duquette will announce some more front office additions and changes, presumably including the appointment of Lee Thomas as one of his special assistants.

Dan Connolly and I will be there to bring you interviews with the new additions and will be in Dallas throughout the meetings to keep you updated on Orioles Insider and Twitter. Should be fun.

For you, not us.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:47 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Just baseball

November 30, 2011

NFL: Bad Thursdays

On a personal level, I think it's great that there's an NFL game on Thursday night's during the second half of the regular season. I'm a big football fan and really haven't gotten excited about Thursday night primetime since George Clooney left "ER," so it works for me even if it apparently doesn't work very well on either a commercial or competitive level.

Sure, the Thanksgiving night game was great because it was a terrific matchup between the Ravens and 49ers, but the idea of certain teams being taken out of their regular routines in the heat of a playoff race just doesn't seem right. Throw in that a lot of the games aren't very good -- because you've got teams working on short prep weeks -- and you can make a pretty good case that it damages the integrity of the overall competition.

This year, in particular, the difference between the offensive performances of Thursday night teams vs. teams playing on Sunday or Monday is stark, particularly in the first half of those games. The first five games played on Thursday (not counting Opening Night) have featured an average of 11.6 total points in the first half, which is about half the first-half average (22.0) for teams playing on Sunday over the course of Weeks 2 through 11.

Obviously, I left out the opening Thursday game and the first slate of Sunday games, since I'm making a point about the short rest, which wouldn't apply in those cases.

That's a pretty dramatic difference. You can give some credit to the solid defensive performance of the Ravens and Packers on Thanksgiving Day, but it's pretty clear that teams playing on three days rest are a little slower off the ball. The 49ers and Lions are two of the highest-scoring teams in the NFL, and they combined for three points in the first two quarters on Thursday.

True, it's a small sample, and the first-half performance of teams last year was much closer to the overall average, but I'm wondering if the whole NFL Network thing is worth the trouble, especially when the league is having trouble selling the commercial spots for those games. If that wasn't the case, I don't think you'd get to see that "Top Five Plays" promo every 10 minutes throughout the broadcast.

I like my highlights at halftime, thank you.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Just football

November 29, 2011

Ravens: The past is the past

If you've been reading my column, you know that no one has harped more about the Ravens' problems against struggling teams more than I have, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that it won't be a problem any more.

Here's why: The Ravens suffered their apparent letdowns at a point in the season when they were going back and forth between high-intensity games against really good teams (and winning most of them convincingly) and seemingly less-significant games against teams that they were expected to beat. It's on them that they didn't beat some of those teams, because they'd be sitting pretty in the AFC home-field derby right now if they had won even one of the three games they lost, but the past is the past.

The difference now is multi-fold:

1. The Ravens will have plenty of time to moderate their emotions after their uplifting Thursday night victory over the 49ers. Ten days between games is almost like coming off a bye week, which will help the Ravens get healthy and mentally refreshed.

2. There are no more of those super-intensity games until the season finale against the Bengals on the road, and who knows if that one will still be significant. If the Ravens take care of business in Cleveland, that will be the end of the emotional roller coaster. They'll just need to remain on an even keel to get through the games they are supposed to win.

3. There can be no doubt in any corner of the lockerroom that the Ravens have no margin for error the rest of the way if they want to be playing home games in the postseason. Every game is a must-win game, and the Ravens have won every game they've felt that way about this year.

Been wrong before, of course, but I can't see the Browns making a dent in the Ravens defense this weekend. The key for the Ravens is pretty simple. Don't turn the ball over and the rest will take care of itself.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Just football

November 22, 2011

Ravens: Thoughts on the Har-Bowl

If you haven't already, you can check out my take on the Harbaugh hype surrounding Thursday night's game between the Ravens and 49ers right here. If you're still reading, here are a few more thoughts on the game.

I'm picking the Ravens, because I think AFC teams are generally better than NFC teams (except the Packers, of course) and because every intangible involved in this game seems to be working in favor of the Ravens.

They might be harried by the compressed work week, but what they are going through is nothing compared to the Niners, who have one less day because they have to fly coast-to-coast in the wrong direction and will have to deal with jet lag for the second time in three weeks.

The last time I looked, the Ravens were listed as a 3 1/2-point favorite, which sounds about right. The oddsmakers are basically saying that home-field advantage will be the deciding factor, but I'm not convinced these are equivalent teams in spite of the 49ers' glitzy 9-1 record. The Ravens have the better defense and have played a tougher schedule, which is a good thing considering how they have played this year against their lesser opponents.

My prediction: Ravens 27, 49ers 16.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 5:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Just football

November 19, 2011

Ravens: Random thoughts on Ray

If you want my take on the Ray Lewis injury situation, I'll have a column posted on the Web site a little later today, but I still had more to say when I ran out of room in tomorrow's paper, so here goes.

I'm going against the odds and the experts in guessing that Ray will show up on the field tomorrow. If you're able to read between the lines of the John Harbaugh quotes that have been published or blogged, it certainly sounds like Ray will be inactive, but we're talking about Ray Lewis and he may have something to say about that on Sunday morning.

Whether he should play is another matter, and a complicated one. He clearly is the spiritual and motivational leader of the team, but that didn't count for all that much last week against the Seattle Seahawks. I don't know when exactly he suffered the toe injury, but he didn't look very mobile and the Seahawks took advantage of that on at least one key play late in the game.

Everybody loves the Ray-Ray intro dance and everybody puts a lot of stock in Ray's pre-game Sunday-cone-to-meeting speech to his teammates, but we've come to a point in this strange season when you have to ask whether it is making any difference. Ray has made that speech three times before games in which the Ravens didn't look particularly imspired against lesser opponents, so there's room to wonder if the message is still getting through.

However, his contribution on the field -- when healthy -- is without question. Even at 36, he leads the Ravens in tackles and (like Cal Ripken in his later years) is able to make up for whatever physical ability he has lost to age with his terrific instincts and vast knowledge of defensive football.

I'm guessing he'll thumb his nose at Father Time for at least one more season, but it's hard to speculate on what he'll be able to over the next few weeks. We'll obviously have a better idea tomorrow.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 12:48 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Just football

November 15, 2011

Ravens: Calling Dr. Freud

If anyone can figure out why the Ravens haven't showed up for three very winnable games that could have helped them put a stranglehold on home-field advantage for the playoffs, please write. John Harbaugh has tried to chalk it up to bad execution (which is certainly part of it), but we've reached the point where it's fair to connect the dots and wonder why his team seems to let down whenever there's an opportunity to put some frosting on the cake.

I'll be back in town today after a fairly lengthy trip west, which included a visit to the West Wing, the Ravens hangout in Hollywood that we featured on a WBAL program last season. The gang was all there, including several people I recognized from home and several people who recognized me.

Former guy Mike Duffy was in the house. He's working in the music business now. Also spent some time watching the game with Connor Byrne, the son of Ravens vice president Kevin Byrne. Except for the outcome, Mrs. Lincoln, it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to going back the next time I'm on the West Coast on an NFL Sunday. Here's a photo of the group taken before the stark realization that the Ravens were about to make another bad team look good.


Posted by Peter Schmuck at 3:22 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Just football

November 12, 2011

Orioles: Coaching staff non-update

Manager Buck Showalter is getting closer to finalizing his coaching staff -- apparently with the help of new VP Dan Duquette -- and I'm certainly not alone in thinking it would be great to see Mike Bordick back in a major league uniform as a full-time infield/first base coach.

That's partly based on personal preference, because Bordick is one of the really good guys in the game and it was such a pleasure to cover him all those years after he came to town to take over for Cal Ripken at shortstop. Since retiring as a player, he has proven to be a terrific coach and minor league instructor, which is the only reason I might have mixed feelings about him moving up to the major league staff.

Like minor league pitching coach Mike Griffin, Bordick might be more valuable in his player development role. The minor league system still needs a lot of work and pulling the best people out of it might be counterproductive, though Duquette may be looking to shake things up anyway.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 2:38 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Just baseball

November 11, 2011

Hug a veteran today

flag.jpgOn this Veteran Day -- as we honor everyone who has ever donned a military uniform and served our country -- I don't have to remind you that the "Greatest Generation" is slipping away from us, so this would be a pretty good time to remember what hundreds of thousands of World War II vets did in the jungles of the South Pacific and the European theater.

It's not hard for me to remember, because I'm in California at the moment visiting the last surviving World War veteran in my immediate family. My dad, a U.S. Marine major (at retirement) who served in Asia in WWII, passed away when I was 20. My mom, who was a Navy Lieutenant who helped patch up the wounded at the Naval hospitals along the West Coast in 1944 and '45, is 92 and still has amazing recall about the war years.

She's also a Red Sox fan for some reason, but you can't hold that against her on Veterans Day.

I bring this up because we still tend to stereotype our war veterans as men, even though thousands of women served in the two world wars and women have had a steadily increasing presence in our fighting forces ever since.

roberta3.bmpMy mom (right) graduated from the world-renowned nursing program at Johns Hopkins in 1943 and -- along with much of her graduating class -- answered the recruiting call for nurse/officers to assist in the war effort. She never regretted that decision, though she had a fine job waiting at the hospital upon graduation.

I'm just glad I have never been faced with a decision like that. I was lucky to reach adulthood between the Viet Nam War and all that has happened the past 20 years in the Middle East. My brother went to Viet Nam and I ended up partying my way through college and watching baseball games for a living.

If you sense a tinge of guilt there for being one of the few members of the family who didn't serve, you're pretty perceptive, but it's mostly a sense of gratitude that I think all of us share for those who made that sacrifice so we can sit around imagining we're patriotic because we belong to one of the major political parties or the other.

Thanks Mom, Dad, big brother Paul and Uncle Jack (two Bronze Stars in Europe). My heroes have always been veterans.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 2:24 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: News of the day
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Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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