Baltimore Orioles win the American League East

Baltimore Orioles win the American League East The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays last night 8-2 and with the win, they locked up the American League East. It’s the first division title for the Orioles in 17 years.

To put this achievement into context, the last time the Orioles were AL East Champions, Cal Ripken Jr. was at third, Brady Anderson roamed centerfield, and Chris Hoiles was behind the plate.  The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman was the number one movie. Bill Clinton was President of the United States and nobody yet knew about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Elton John’s remake of Candle in the Wind, a tribute to Lady Di, was the number one song.

Between then and now, the Orioles played a lot of sucky baseball. They put together 14 straight losing seasons after 1997. It was a bad time to be Orioles fan. It was a bad time to be a watcher of baseball in Maryland.

One of the most remarkable things about this season is that they were able to win the division without the services of two of their best players, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado.

Last night’s game on TV was pretty special. MASN chose not to go to commercial between the eighth and ninth inning. Instead, they just showed the crowd and the players take the field to get the last three outs. The best part was that they had Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer in the broadcast booth turn their mics off. The only sound you heard were the cheers of the crowd as the Orioles took the field. It was nice.

No matter what happens in the playoffs, winning the American League East is quite an achievement.

The silliness of Maryland’s tax-free week

The silliness of Maryland's tax-free weekUntil Saturday, when you buy clothing or shoes in the state of Maryland, you won’t be charged sales tax. From the official Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week website:

The second Sunday of August to the following Saturday is designated as Shop Maryland tax-free Week each year. That means qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less, per item, are exempt from the state sales tax. Accessory items are not included. The Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week for 2014 is Sunday, August 10 – Saturday, August 16.

Maryland sales tax is normally a whopping six percent.

They do this every year and I think it’s kind of dumb, mostly because of the way people respond to it. We were at the mall Sunday and people seemed to be buying a lot of stuff. There was a long line at the register at one of the shoe stores. I don’t think I’ve ever seen people lined up there to buy anything. And for what, to save six percent?

That seems kind of silly.

Six percent isn’t that much. If stores collectively decided to have a week-long sale where everything was six percent off, would people even respond? Would they be lining up?

The Maryland comptroller published a three-page list of what gets taxed and what doesn’t. Bow ties are taxed, adult diapers are not. They also published a list of Frequently asked questions. I read through them and if people are really frequently asking these questions, Maryland has a lot more stupid people than I ever thought.

Bryce Harper drags foot over Braves logo

Bryce Harper drags foot over Braves logoSpoiled brat Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals took some much deserved heat Saturday night from Atlanta Braves fans when he intentionally dragged his foot over the giant stylized letter “A” behind home plate. This was evidently done in retaliation for Braves fans booing the immature outfielder every time he made his way to the batter’s box.

Harper of course lied about it after Saturday’s game. That’s what he does. He acts like a punk and then lies about it after he’s called out on it. It’s the Harper way.

It’s hard for me to put into words just how much I dislike Bryce Harper. I can’t even watch Nationals games anymore. Living here in Maryland, I can watch every Orioles and National game on TV. I used to, pre-Harper, watch quite a few Nats games when the O’s weren’t on. Not anymore.

As of this morning, Harper is batting .249 and has only four home runs. He’s struck out 65 times. Being the Bryce Haper hater that I am, maybe I should start watching Nationals games again for the schadenfreude.

Why I changed my mind about the Redskins controversy

With football season fast approaching, I’ve been thinking more about the controversy surrounding the name of the Washington Redskins. I’ve changed my mind. I no longer think the name should be changed.

What made me change my mind? This photo, for one:


Also, this photo helped too:

The r-word? Anyone who wants to equate the n-word to the word Redskins is stupid and doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Nothing equals the n-word. It’s the apex predator of all racial slurs. If someone wants to argue that the word Redskins is a negative racial slur, then I’m more than happy to listen to the evidence proving this. On the other hand, if someone wants to declare that not only is the word Redskins a negative racial slur, but that it’s equal to the word nigger, then I’m out.

Don’t get me wrong. If you were going to create a professional sports team today in 2014, I don’t think it would be a good idea to name it after a minority group or a term referring to skin color. The thing is, the team has been called Redskins for so long, that any real or perceived racial insensitivity connected to the word, was mitigated a long time ago. The word Redskins has been in the public lexicon for decades, not as a racial slur, but as the name of a professional football team.

Words change. Language is an ever evolving thing. Even if the word Redskins began as a negative slur, and the experts can’t seem to agree if it did or not, it’s not one now.

It’s the name of a professional football team in the National Football League that plays its home games here in Maryland. People should stop burning so many calories trying to make it something that it’s not.

Free Comic Book Day 2014

fbcd-logoTomorrow is Free Comic Book Day, the one day a year you can walk into a comic book shop and get comics without paying for them, and not have to worry about ending up in the back of a police car wearing handcuffs. Publishers produce special comics that they in turn sell to comic book retailers through a distributor at a substantially lower amount, for the sole purpose of giving them away on Free Comic Book Day.

Over the years, comic book retailers have taken advantage of Free Comic Book Day by having special sales and other events that capitalize on the special day. Here’s a list of what some of the comic book shops in and around western Maryland will be doing tomorrow:

  • Atomic Comics (Hagerstown, Maryland): Nothing. To the best of my knowledge, Atomic Comics didn’t participate in Free Comic Book Day even before the building in which it resides was condemned by the city.
  • Beyond Comics (Frederick, Maryland): Comic creators Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn, Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, Danielle Corsetto and Terry Flippo will be there signing autographs. Artists will be doing sketches. If you bring in a non-perishable food item, you will receive more free comics. They are also having a huge sale.
  • Brainstorm Comics & Gaming (Frederick, Maryland): It doesn’t look like they are participating in Free Comic Book Day this year. There isn’t anything about it on their website or their Facebook page.
  • Comics World (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania): Located in the old Waldenbooks storefront in the Chambersburg Mall, Comics Works is by far the nicest and biggest comic shop in the region. Not only are they participating in Free Comics Book Day, they are also having a sale.
  • Four Color Fantasies (Winchester, Virginia): Even though they claim on Facebook to be Virginia’s best comic book shop, it doesn’t look like they are participating in Free Comic Book Day. There’s nothing about it on their Facebook page and their website appears to have been abandoned.

So there you have it, it looks like if you want some free comic books, you’ll need to go to either Frederick or Chambersburg. Either destination is around 25 miles from Hagerstown, so considering the price of gasoline, it might just be cheaper to go to Wonder Book & Video and paw through the $1 long boxes or go to 2nd & Charles and do the same.

Amazon raising the price of Amazon Prime to $99

Amazon raising the price of Amazon Prime to $99 - Bent CornerI received an email yesterday from Amazon informing me that when my Amazon Prime membership renews in November, the price will be $99. The current price is $79. They are raising the price by $20.

According to Amazon, the price has remained the same for nine years. Since it was rolled out in 2005, the price has been $79.

I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for two years and in that time, I feel like I’ve more than got my money’s worth. Not only do I get free two-day shipping on almost everything I purchase from Amazon, I also get to watch free streaming video on my Roku. Because of the free streaming video, I canceled my Netflix subscription.

To tell the truth, I would probably pay more than $99 for Amazon Prime. I feel like I more than get my money’s worth. The free shipping coupled with the fact that I don’t need to pay state sales tax when I buy stuff from Amazon, really ads up. On Tuesday, I tried to buy a Fitbit Flex wireless activity tracker at the Hagerstown Walmart. They of course didn’t have any even though thy had a special display set up for them. I then looked at getting one online from Walmart’s website, but realized that even if I chose to have it shipped for free to the Hagerstown store, I was going to be paying an extra six dollars in Maryland sales tax.

The following day, Wednesday, I ordered one from Amazon. It was not only a few dollars cheaper than Walmart, there was no sales tax. I’m scheduled to receive it today. The shipping was free and it will be delivered right to my door. If I purchased it from Walmart, I would have to go to the Hagerstown store and probably stand in a line behind someone not wearing deodorant.

I judge the quality of my life by how little I have to stand in a line at Walmart.

Photo: Ben Margot/AP