Pimpin’ for my homies and your help needed

Better than making several separate posts, I thought I’d just include a few things in one:

  • Our good friend — and the only man I call “Big Sexy” — is helping host a car wash fundraiser for Relay For Life Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the employee parking lot at Lenoir Memorial Hospital. A $5 donation or more is requested. If it’s rained out, it will take place on Saturday, June 6.
  • Randy Capps, an award-winning writer for the Fayetteville Observer (and the Henderson Dispatch and Shelby Star before that) has two great posts on his blog delving into his fanhood of the Baltimore Orioles. Simply put, no one does this type of media better than Capps. My only complaint? NOT ENOUGH ENTRIES.
  • Wilson Daily Times Sports Editor Paul Durham — another of the really good guys in this shark-infested business — reports that former Kinston and current Wilson Fike AD and girls’ basketball coach John Gay has resigned, part of a nearly-complete overhaul of the coaching staff at Fike.
  • As you might’ve heard from my colleague Jon Dawson, I am hijacking his blog on Monday and Tuesday (much like he did mine while I was gone for 10 days). He has a nice TGIF thought up on his blog today.
  • xxxx
  • A final thought: I am perplexed as to why we’re not getting very many votes in the ECOTD contest of late. The page views continue to skyrocket (over 100,000 for the third straight month!), but our votes are dropping significantly, both in the comments and by e-mail. Are you getting tired of the Eye Candy? If so, I can certainly take that off the blog — it takes a good 30 to 45 minutes each day to put that together and I can use that time for something else. Help me help you — let me know what you think.

Changes coming to Free Press, the blog

Since you faithful bloggees get all the breaking news, here’s a couple of good nuggets for you, in case you hadn’t heard.

The Free Press will look completely different beginning with Monday’s edition. We’re going from the traditional “broadsheet” display to a more compact edition that we’re calling, well, the “compact edition”. It’ll look more like a magazine in size, although it’ll still be published on newsprint.

But wait, there’s more: the new size will enable us to give you more local content in a much better package. There will be a tip-off page on Page 3 everyday that gives you everything you need in a bite-sized contents.

Since most of you are sports fans, you’ll be excited about this: the sports pages will lift out of the paper as its own section. Additionally, there will also be a full page of dedicated agate (statistics, etc.) every day, something that had taken a hit over the past few months due to a drop in pages.

I’ve decided to do a little overhauling of the blog to coincide with the paper’s new look, too. Beginning Monday, the blog will have a little bit of a new look, with a new topper and background. Also, the ECOTD will open to a new page; you’ll see the notice of the new ECOTD in a post each day, but you’ll need to do an additional click to get to the pictures. That way — if folks want to look at the blog without having hoo-hoo’s and booties thrust at them, they’ll be happy.

Anyway — a lot of new stuff is being thrown your way beginning Monday. Hope y’all like it.

Drew Meadows is the new K-Tribe clubhouse manager

Out of some very sad news has come a nice story: the new Kinston Indians clubhouse manager is faithful bloggee Drew Meadows (ECPirates11). I was on the phone with him about an hour ago and he said he starts soon.

Drew played baseball at LCC for coach Lind Hartsell and then went on to ECU, where he was a video guy for the football program while he was working towards his degree.

Drew replaces Robert Smeraldo, who died Tuesday after a stroke on Monday.

My take: He’s a heck of a guy and I know he’s going to do a tremendous job for Shari Massengill, the K-Tribe and the Cleveland system. There is not a better person Shari could have selected for the job.

Kinston HS Old-Timers game is TOMORROW

A quick reminder to y’all: the second annual Kinston High School Old-Timer’s Baseball Game is tomorrow at the KHS baseball field. Coach Wade has let me know there are about 20 participants (including Free Press Sports Editor Ryan Herman!) that have signed up to play in the game.

Admission is $5 and it should be a blast — last year’s game was certainly a lot of fun. All money raised will go to help the Vikings program.

Like last year, I will be an umpire/official in the game. However, our good friend Brian North — who also helped last year — won’t be able to be a part of it because he has to cover prep soccer championships in Raleigh. We’re trying to find another umpire and when we have it, I’ll post it here.

Anyhoo — see you tomorrow at Viking Field! Should be a great time for all. I’m looking forward to Steve Lovick taking one out of the park this year.

Morning News Report; May 29, 2009

VOTER INTIMIDATION CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST THREE BLACK PANTHERS

Fox News is reporting that voter intimidation charges against three members of the New Black Panther Party have been dropped by the Obama administration.

Three men were camped out in front of a Philadelphia polling place, wearing the uniforms of the Black Panthers and were — as a civil rights activist from the 1960s testified — intimidating voters and potential voters. One of the men carried a nightstick.

My take: Very, very disturbing that something like that can happen in America in 2008. It’s hard enough to get folks out to vote anyway, and to have something like this happen discourages potential voters even moreso.

I’m not hung up on the color issue here. If this happened in reverse, I’d be as disturbed. I just hope this isn’t one of those things that white racists get up in arms about to rally their “movement”.

WRITER CARRIED AWAY FROM AIR FORCE ONE PRESS AREA

A free-lancer for a monthly newspaper in Georgia was forcibly removed from a press staging area in Los Angeles yesterday. She had a letter to President Obama that supported traditional marriage. 

My take: Some of the left-leaning media have already kicked in, calling the woman a bunch of names, including insane (which she may or may not be).

I’m having trouble linking a picture but you can check out a photo of the ordeal by going here.

LENO’S ‘TONIGHT SHOW’ SWAN SONG IS TONIGHT

Jay Leno says good-bye to “The Tonight Show” tonight, ending his 17-year reign as late night’s top talker. He hands the show to Conan O’Brien, who takes over Monday night.

My take: Although his over-reliance on cue cards bothered me to no end, I mostly enjoyed his show — especially over the drivel that is Letterman’s show.

The iPod shuffle

Addicted To Love — Robert Palmer

That’s All Right — Elvis Presley

Breakdown — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Bonnie & Clyde — Jay-Z featuring Beyonce Knowles

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Live) – U2

Streak for the Cash update; May 28, 2009

With just three and a half days remaining before the end of this month’s competition, thought I’d provide a little update.

Flagan (F. Jones) looks like he’s headed for his third victory in four months, but anything can happen in the final days of this game. You can join in and get some practice before we start the June portion and win valuable prizes*, along with the love and admiration of your fellow bloggees.

ESPN is giving away a boatload of prizes too, with the possibility of winning $1 million. And all this costs you nothing but your time.

We’re up to 51 participants, up three from the last time we provided an update about three weeks ago.

And it’ll make you feel good to kick my butt; I have stunk it up terribly in May — I haven’t strung three wins in a row together since May 1. Seriously.

Anyhoo, here are your leaders. I’ll give the end-of-the-month recap on Monday.

Longest active winning streak

H. Blonde — 5

C. Creech — 3

A. Dougherty — 3

D. Jones — 3

L. Malpass — 3

Longest winning streak (since April 1)

W. Willis –11

C. Barnes — 8

R. Capps — 8

C. Creech — 8

S. Jones (bealest) — 8

J. Irvin — 7

Greg Melvin — 7

nine with 6

Most wins in May (to whom this month’s prize goes to)

F. Jones — 48

D. Jones — 42

J. Irvin — 41

R. Capps — 40

S. Jones (bealest) — 40

C. Barnes — 35

W. Willis — 32

B. Hanks — 30

L. Malpass — 30

C. Creech — 28

Best winning percentage since April 1 (min. 34 games played)

C. Oliver — .615 (24-15-1)

K. Rouse — .581 (36-26-3)

H. Blonde — .5631 (58-45)

D. Meadows — .5625 (18-14-2)

G. Melvin — .556 (40-32-3)

S. Jones (coaltrain) — .548 (40-33-1)

R. Capps — .539 (83-71-4)

B. Davis — .535 (23-20)

L. Malpass — .52419 (65-59-4)

W. Willis — .52413 (76-69-6)

Most total wins (since April 1)

F. Jones — 107

S. Jones (bealest) — 96

J. Irvin — 95

R. Capps — 84

W. Willis — 76

B. Hanks — 71

C. Barnes — 68

L. Malpass — 65

D. Pollock — 64

H. Blonde — 58

D. Becton — 58

Most games played (since April 1)

F. Jones — 220

S. Jones (bealest) — 200

J. Irvin — 188

R. Capps — 159

B. Hanks — 157

W. Willis — 151 

C. Barnes — 135

D. Jones — 135

D. Pollock — 129

L. Malpass — 128

Longest current losing streak

G. Melvin — 4

C. Barnes — 3

S. Jones (coaltrain) — 3

B. Pelletier — 3

*Valuable prizes are what I can find around the office, usually K-Tribe tickets or Free Press gear.

Morning News Report; May 28, 2009

DOBBS SCHOOL COULD SOON CLOSE

In an exclusive garnered by our good friend Jon Dawson, Dobbs School could close as soon as September, if a budget proposed by the N.C. Senate is approved.

My take: OK, if this does go through, what happens to the children who are there? It was just a little over a year ago that the new Lenoir County Youth Development Center was opened near Dobbs — is that going to affected, too? Stay tuned.

‘SCRUBS’ MIGHT RETURN IN THE FALL

Thanks to Mr. Rouse for this tidbit of info: my favorite TV show — “Scrubs” — might return in the fall (or at least a version of it).

My take: Woo-hoo! Although I wasn’t that pleased with the final season, the finale was fantastic.

And with the possibility of Turk (Donald Faison) anchoring a potential new season or series, I think it has real potential.

U OF MEMPHIS UNDER INVESTIGATION

The University of Memphis basketball program is under investigation for major rules violations under then-coach and current Kentucky coach John Calipari.

My take: Surprise, surprise! Calipari has always been a little shady anyway — does this shock you?

For Kentucky’s credit, they’re taking his word that he was upfront with the NCAA. We’ll see.

The iPod shuffle

Respect — Aretha Franklin

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds — Elton John

What Have I Done To Deserve This? — Pet Shop Boys

Hysteria — Def Leppard

Here Comes My Girl — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Smeraldo’s funeral at Grainger Stadium on Saturday

From Howard-Carter Funeral Home: 

Robert Arthur Smeraldo, 59, of Kinston passed away on Tuesday, May 26, 2009.  The family will receive friends from 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 29, 2009 at Howard-Carter Funeral Home and other times at the home of his sister, Peggy Smith, 12805 NC Hwy 55W, Dover.

Funeral services will be held at 12 noon Saturday, May 30, 2009 at Grainger Stadium.

Morning News Report; May 27, 2009

First off — it’s good to be back. I wish Dawson would’ve taken all his dresses and wigs he uses for his burlesque show(s) out of my office, but at least they’re not perfumed (like the outfits he wears in the office on a typical day).

Anyhoo, thanks for supporting J-Dizzle while I was gone. There are some exciting new things happening with The Free Press and this blog and they’ll begin on Monday. More on that later.

Here’s your eagerly-anticipated MNR:

TED SAMPLEY REDUX

Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to Ted Sampley’s funeral because of prior commitments, but it’s good to know he’s still stirring emotions after his passing. Former Free Press Managing Editor Lee Raynor raked the Kinston City Council over the coals (read at the end of the link) for not attending Sampley’s funeral or any of the other memorial services for the icon.

Want to see a video of her speech? Go here — it’s pretty awesome. Yes, as David Anderson wrote in the above linked article, she “savaged” the City Council.

My take: Good for Lee — and she’s right. It’s a slap in the face of his legacy that no elected official from the city paid their respects to Ted.

GM CLOSE TO BANKRUPTCY

General Motors is expected to soon file for bankruptcy protection, which would mean the United States and Canada will own 75 percent of the company.

My take: Yes, the socialization of the business sector is well under way. This is evidently what America wants, so … congratulations.

HURRICANES ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFFS

After two exciting playoff series, the Carolina Hurricanes ended their 2008-09 Stanley Cup run by being swept in the Eastern Conference Finals by Pittsburgh.

My take: Despite the sudden finality of the losses, it was still a heck of a run by the sixth-seeded Canes. Before the playoffs, I could name maybe two of their players. Now, I can name at least five.

That’s something, isn’t it?

The iPod shuffle

Rhythm Nation — Janet Jackson

Treat Me Nice — Elvis Presley

Yesterday — En Vogue

Perfect — Snoop Dogg featuring Charlie Wilson

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic — The Police

Rest in peace, Robert Smeraldo

Yes, this is Bryan, and I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow morning to post this. 

From Kinston Indians media relations/play-by-play announcer Chris Hemeyer:

Kinston Indian’s Clubhouse Manager Robert Smeraldo died Tuesday night from complications of a massive stroke suffered early Monday morning.  Smeraldo was 59 years old.

Smeraldo was the longest tenured member of the Kinston Indians staff, working 17 years with the team.

“Words can’t describe what Robert meant to not only the Kinston Indians, but also the Cleveland Indians Organization,” said Kinston Indians General Manager Shari Massengill.  “He spent almost two decades taking care of Cleveland’s future stars; he worked around the clock to make sure their needs were met.  He loved this team and we in turn loved him.”

Originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, Smeraldo was an outstanding high school athlete and spent 22 years as a staff sergeant in the United States Air Force.  Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.

My take: Admittedly, I didn’t know Robert that well, but he was always very pleasant to me in our dealings. With David Hall and Chris Kline as my primary K-Tribe writers, I didn’t need to be in the Indians clubhouse that much. But when I saw him at the ballpark or in the K-Tribe offices, he was very good to me.

This is another piece of bad news for Shari and the K-Tribe family, who lost Delmont Miller in the offseason. Our prayers and thoughts are with the team.