Cuban MLB player joining U.S. Army Reserve

MLBBrayan Peña, a catcher and first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals in MLB tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he is joining the Army Reserve after this season ends.

Peña tweeted:

Im very proud to announce with the support of my wife & family that i will be joining the ARMY RESERVE this off season ” God Bless America “

Peña just recently came off the disabled list. He previously played for the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, and Kansas City Royals.

Peña was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. His best friend growing up was Yunel Escobar, who now plays for the Los Angeles Angels. Pena defected in 1999 at a tournament in Venenzuela. Escobar would later follow him to Major League Baseball.

Here’s Peña’s tweet from earlier today:

Other MLB players in the military

Just three days ago, the Braves and Marlins played a game on-post at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One active-duty Army Lieutenant stationed at Bragg was featured during coverage of the game. 2LT Alex Robinette, who appears to be a field artillery officer, was profiled during and after the game. Robinette is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in June 2015 and played for the Staten Island Yankees that season. He has decided not to continue his baseball career and is focused on his career as an Army officer.

A list of other baseball players who served in the military has to begin with Ted Williams, who left baseball in the prime of his career to be a Navy fighter pilot during WWII. He later was a Marine pilot in Korea. Another World War II veteran who played Major League Baseball was Jackie Robinson. There’s a fairly long list of MLB players who have served.

 

Beach Patrol captain in hot water over email

Beach PatrolWhile Rodney the Lifeguard (pictured at left) is just a fictional lifeguard from the Ocean City Beach Patrol used in a tourism advertising campaign, the real Beach Patrol is in the news now for what has become a hot-button issue in recent months.

The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday night that the Captain of the Beach Patrol, Butch Arbin, sent an email Sunday telling members of the Beach Patrol to use the locker room “that corresponds to your DNA.”

Arbin has been Captain for 20 years and a member of the beach patrol for 40. He is a teacher in Charles County during the school year and has been named Maryland Physical Education Teacher of the Year in the past.

More from the Sun on the email:

“We are not Target,” Melbourne “Butch” Arbin III wrote in an email Sunday to several dozen Beach Patrol members. “Males use the men’s locker room only! Females use the women’s locker room only!

“If you’re not sure,” he concluded, “go to Target.”

A city flack, who heard about the email from the reporter, called the comments “inappropriate” and not funny and said Arbin could face discipline, which is based on the decision of the Emergency Services Director. The director said that the comments were “insensitive” and “not a true reflection of [Arbin], our department or the Town of Ocean City.”

The emergency services manager also noted that Arbin had not intended to insult any individual or group with his words.

Arbin sent an email to his staff Monday apologizing for the original email that included these lines:

I used humor to make the point. However, this is not the same issue that has been in the news. The males that have used the Women’s locker room are not using out of necessity or because they are identifying as a woman, they are using it out of convenience.

Arbin also noted in the story from the Sun that his original email was sent after women members of the patrol had complained about men using the women’s locker room. He also noted that there are plenty of unisex restrooms available to patrol members and that there are no transgender employees. He noted that he was making a joke using the Target reference because toilet seats in women’s restrooms were being left in the raised position.

Arbin, who hadn’t heard any complaints, also said, “”I don’t care about being politically correct. That’s one of the problems in the country right now.”

He had no complaints against him according to the city’s flack and expressed surprise that anyone had passed it on without discussing it with him.

Beach Patrol captain’s email compared to Orlando massacre

Patrick Paschall, executive director of FreeState Equality Maryland, told the Sun that he and his staff had received a copy of the original message. He claimed the email violated Maryland discrimination laws and made fun of transgender people while contributing to hate and violence.

Paschall also attacked the email by invoking this weekend’s horrific massacre at a gay nightclub by a radical Islamist terrorist in Orlando that killed 49 and injured over 50 others:

“I don’t know how to express the level of anger,” he said, “especially in light of the massacre in Orlando.”

I wouldn’t be surprised with that heated rhetoric if they didn’t also go after Arbin’s teaching job in addition to the beach patrol one.

Georgetown athlete tased at Beyonce concert

GeorgetownWBFF (Fox 45) reported that 21-year old Georgetown student Ebony McKeever “returned to Gate A at M&T Bank Stadium to try re-entering the stadium and was advised by security officials she could not get in.”

Police reported she became disorderly and assaulted police officers dealing with her. She broke away after having one hand placed in a handcuff and started swinging the arm with the handcuffs attached. That was when police tased her and took her into custody. She was so uncooperative that she even refused to give them her name.

Police filed eight charges against McKeever, whowas treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

More from WBFF on the charges:

Ebony McKeever has been charged with the following: two counts of second-degree assault, trespassing, dangerous weapon with intent to injure, resisting arrest, failure to obey a lawful order, disorderly conduct and intoxication/endangerment.

Police said McKeever was the only arrest related to the Beyonce concert. She posted bond and was released.

McKeever’s residence listed on court records indicate she  lives on-campus at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Further  research indicates that she is a sprinter on the Hoyas Track & Field team.

More on Georgetown Sprinter Ebony McKeever

McKeever’s biography on the Georgetown Athletics website indicates she was a junior this year. She is a native of San Francisco and attended Sacred Heart Cathedral High School. Her personal record in the 400 meter sprint is 56.84 seconds.

McKeever has interned at Kaiser Permanente and at the (San Francisco) Mayor’s Youth Employment and Education Program. She also was elected in 2014 as a student senator in the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA).

Ebony McKeever is also active in The Grassroot Project.

More on that project (emphasis added):

The Grassroot Project serves to educate at-risk youth from Washington D.C. about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention by utilizing Division I “student-athlete” role models. Founded in January 2009, The Grassroot Project is one of the first 501(c)(3) organizations to be designed, initiated, and managed completely by NCAA Division I varsity athletes encompassing athletes from Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, and University of Maryland.

Beyonce concerts in other cities have been protested by police officers and officers refusing to volunteer for overtime hours to provide security for her concerts. The protests were because of claims that her peformance at the Super Bowl and the video for the song Formation are anti-police.

UPDATE

The Baltimore Sun reports that McKeever was escorted out of the concert for disorderly conduct before the other events unfolded.

Freddie Gray book reviews full of snark, vitriol

Freddie GrayThe book Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend by Kitria Stewart is billed as “an illustrated storybook of memories that were shared with Freddie Gray growing up in Baltimore City.”

The reviews of the book on Amazon.com have hovered around the 1-2 star range with a number of snarky, non-serious reviews mocking Freddie Gray and the premise of the book. Amazon has been cleaning them up since last night, with the reviews down from 118 to 82 to 58 at last inspection. The vitriolic reviews have been making the rounds via email and on social media over the past few days.

I’m including some of the reviews below for informational purposes. I don’t endorse any of them, good or bad since I haven’t read the book. I’m generally against using Amazon and Yelp reviews for political purposes. If you find any of the reviews distasteful, you can let Amazon know on the “Report Abuse” link under each review.

One serious reviewer recently said, “This book is Awesome it shows the real Freddie.. The side the media wouldn’t speak about! Great Job Kitria” while another wrote, “Wow! #MustRead This is such an amazing book that reflects upon Kitria’s childhood memories with Freddie!!!”

Purchase the book here.

Those types of reviews are few and  far between however.

One reviewer even used the nom de plume of “Marilyn Mosby” to leave a review while another left a 5-star review entitled, “Follow up Novel coming soon ‘2 page of Priors'” with a listing of all of Gray’s criminal charges from the online Maryland Judiciary Case Search. One amateur poet even left a review parodying “Green Eggs and Ham” with the title “Seen Drugs and Scram,”

A sampling of some of the reviews:

  • “This book was given to me by a friend, and I honestly read it objectively. However, there was no way I could stomach the tissue of lies that attempted to make a troubled youth and a concordant criminal out to be a Sunday morning choir boy. What a waste of time. Biased, politically motivated and obviously slanted to support an agenda that due to recent events has proven flawed and skewed. Lousy book. Don’t waste time or money.”
  • “It should have been called, Freddie Gray, My Friend the Criminal Drug Dealer.”
  • “Nothing like glorifying the criminal. Great example for inner city kids to read but then again liberal democrats have to fan the flames of hate to keep the inner city poor voting for their candidates.”
  • “Good to see the entrepreneurial spirit exist even in the depravity of West Baltimore. When life gives you lemons, make up a bunch of crap and put it in a book, or was that supposed to be lemonade?”
  • “Spoiler alert: he dies at the end”
  • “Ah yes Freddie gray my childhood friend with a rap sheet a mile long and constant priors. Great for kindling.”
  • “This is the sequel to the book, ‘Charlie Manson, my childhood buddy..’ Apparently someone trying to make a fast buck!!! Shame on you, Amazon for selling this trash!!”
  • “Depolorable that Amazon would allow the sale of this book, and even more so that it was even written. Propaganda at it’s finest.”
  • “Great for starting a fire pit. Or Charcoal grill.”
  • “Read this in the back of a van on a short trip. Really had me shaken up.”
  • “If I wanted to read a fairytale, I would just pick up a Disney book. What a joke. The book should be free too since the family was paid 6 million to go away.”

More on Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend

Kitria StewartThe author of the book, Kitria Stewart attended Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Baltimore City and then went on to attend college at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP), where she ran track.

The Amazon “About the Author” blurb notes that, “Kitria Stewart is a native of Baltimore, Maryland who holds a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her love for writing grew after being a freelance writer for online publications through Borderzine.com. As a former track athlete, she enjoys getting involved in the community to engage the youth through sports and reading.”

Her Borderzine author page only shows four pieces with her byline.

You can follow her on Twitter here:
@KitriaStewart

You can purchase a copy of Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend here:

Baltimore may require warning labels on soda

BaltimoreBaltimore is trying to add to its street cred as an agent of the nanny state by possibly requiring warning labels to be placed on all sweetened drinks. A vote on the measure takes place Tuesday.

Additionally, the measure would require the warnings to be placed on advertisements, restauarant menus, and posted in stores selling sweetened drinks.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland supports the measure, which was proposed by City Councilman Nick Mosby before he abandoned his campaign for mayor.

Here’s what Robi Rawl of Sugar Free Kids Maryland told WBAL:

Rawl told Maryland’s News This Week that the labels would help consumers make informed choices about buying the beverages, warning people that over consumption of the drinks may cause obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

Opposition to the proposal includes the Maryland Retailers Association, the Restaurant AssItociation of Maryland, and the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Beverage association:

“At a time when Baltimore City is struggling to retain grocery stores and supermarkets this new mandate, which exists nowhere else in the nation, will have a chilling effect on attracting new merchants to the city,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “What proponents of this legislation cannot grasp is that the environment for retailers in the city is already fragile. It is shortsighted and takes the city in the wrong direction.”

Melvin Thompson, the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, was equally critical saying: “We are concerned that this proposed legislation goes too far and will not only deter the formation of new businesses, such as restaurants, but send a negative message that will discourage people from eating, shopping and enjoying Baltimore City.”

“Forcing restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines to carry misleading and inaccurate warning signs about popular beverages such as lemonades, sweet teas, fruit juices, fruit drinks, sports drinks and soft drinks misses an opportunity to teach and lead with a right message – lifestyle choices matter; new government bans, restrictions or for that matter “warning labels” for lemonade don’t,” said Ellen Valentino, executive vice president, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association.

“The beverage industry has developed a number of real solutions that are having an impact and we are making sure there are dozens of options for everyone. Maryland beverage makers recognize that all calories count and are committed to helping consumers be more mindful of the beverage choices they make.”

Baltimore Not Alone

Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sodas, and was shot down in court. DC tried to do the same and it never went anywhere. Mexico banned advertising for sodas and Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has proposed a tax on sugar by the teaspoon. Former County Executive Ken Ulman enacted a ban in Howard County that resulted in private vendors only being allowed to sell diet sodas at a 4th of July event. Thankfully, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman repealed that ban upon taking office.

It’s good to see that Baltimore City has solved all the problems associated with rampant violence and urban blight that have been long-term problems. Now that they’ve fixed those they can move forward on the important things, like requiring labels on drinks with sugar added.