Arnold Mycock Day — Cotuit Kettleers

A great ball game last night at Cotuit’s Lowell Park, beginning with the dedication of the press building to the original Mister Kettleer: Arnold Mycock.  I don’t know Arnold very well, he’s a quiet man who keeps to himself in the grandstand behind the Kettleer’s dugout, usually with a scorecard and paying keen attention to the action out on the diamond.  Behind the quiet demeanor — what Coach Mike Roberts called the most humble man he had ever met — Arnold Mycock is a legend not only as a founder of the Cape Cod Baseball League —  the preeminent wooden bat summer college league — but also for the four league championships he delivered in his tenure as the general manager of the Cotuit Kettleers, his 63 years of volunteer service to the team and the league, and his quiet devotion to the purest form of baseball that exists (in my opinion).

From cleaning the restrooms to washing the uniforms to mowing the grass twice a week, Arnold did it all.

Arnold’s superlatives are more than impressive. He was the first person inducted into the CCBL hall of fame. More than 40 of his players went onto to the major leagues.  Joe Girardi of the Yankees played for Arnold. Ron Darling of the Mets did. And New Mexico governor Bill Richardson pitched for Cotuit in the 60s. Arnold was a killer scout for the Kettleer’s have won 14 League championships thanks to his off-season trips to the south and west to look for up and coming college talent.

This past winter Arnold was given an meritorious service award by the American Baseball Coaches Association for his contributions to college baseball.

Every time I sit in the bleachers with my pals and marvel at the perfection of free baseball that I can watch in bare feet, with no lights, frolicking mascots, I give thanks to Arnold and the Cotuit Athletic Association for their hard work. It makes my annual donation to the cause and the few bucks I slip into the kettles during the third inning feel very tiny in comparison to his devotion and the ongoing commitment by the entire organization.

Coach Mike Roberts dedicates the Arnold Mycock Press Building to Arnold, who sits second from the right.

Shark Porn

The fact that Steven Spielberg filmed Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard — and not the Hamptons where Robert Benchley’s novel ostensibly took place — has made Cape Cod and the Islands synonymous with gory shark porn in the public imagination. That movie kept me out of the water for the remainder of 1970s, and to this day I prefer to go in the drink only when pushed, capsized or otherwise forced in. Voluntarily electing to submerge myself in the home waters of such critters as the box jelly and the Great White Shark is not something I do lightly.

The past weekend’s awesome photo of a guy looking over his shoulder while paddling a blue plastic kayak a few yards in front of a black dorsal fin has gone viral, and my inbox today is filled with admiring comments from friends who secretly want to see someone get consumed by one of the monsters. So I must muse about sharks. The last person to be killed by a shark in Massachusetts was poor 16-year old Joe Troy, Jr., who bled to death after being dragged underwater by a shark while swimming out to greet a catboat coming into Mattapoissett Harbor on Buzzards Bay

Thanks to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the seal population on the Cape’s outer beaches and Monomoy Island has exploded, and the sands are littered with big, juicy, swimming fat blobs that just happen to be the favorite snack of Great Whites.  Find a few headless seal corpses on the beach, spot a fin here and there, wait for a striped bass fisherman to report seeing a shark as long as his boat out in the rips and the next thing you know Cape Cod is re-enacting the carnival scenes in Jaws.

Do I care? Not really. The actuaries say my odds of a shark attack are one in 11.5 million — actually more likely than winning the Powerball jackpot which are one in 175 million –though I suspect the shark odds depend on where I live and how often I engage in shark-friendly activities. Like swimming at night or kayaking.

I drove over Matawan Creek in New Jersey last month, on my way to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, and couldn’t help think to that terrible July in 1916 when a shark or sharks killed four people and injured another. Three of the attacks took place in the quiet tidal Matawan Creek, and that fact, more than any other, freaks me out when it comes to swimming in Cotuit Bay.

I once covered a shark attack when I was a stringer for Soundings in San Francisco in the early 80s. A surfer named Lewis Boren vanished around Monterey. His board washed up with a big semi-circular bite taken out of it. And his corpse washed up a little while afterwards. I’ve never been out to the Farallons, but admired Susan Casey’s The Devil’s Teethand definitely would not take up any Northern Californian water sports any time soon. Including diving — as one poor abalone diver was decapitated in 2004 while clamming around Mendocino.

If you want to indulge in shark porn and not wait for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, I recommend:

  • In the Slick of the Cricket, Russell Drumm’s lyrical profile of Frank Mundus, the Montauk captain who inspired Quint in Jaws. This guy used to find dead whales floating off of Long Island and stand on them, feeding chunks of fresh cantaloupe to the sharks in between bites of rancid whale blubber.
  • The Devil’s TeethSusan Casey’s first person account of hanging out with the shark scientists on California’s Farallon Islands. This is the place, along with South Africa Cape of Good Hope, where more Great Whites congregate to eat more seals than anywhere else in the world. It would appear Chatham, Massachusetts is on its way to becoming hotspot #3.
  • Close to Shore: Michael Capuzzo’s 2001 history of the 1916 Jersey shore attacks, another inspiration for Jaws.
  • In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis: by Doug Stanton. As Quint said in Jaws: “1,100 men went into the water, 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

Google and YouTube can provide you more than enough lurid shark porn. I’m going to buy a lottery ticket.

The art of trolling ….

I came across this the other day and believe it is the best troll ever:

“Allow me to play doubles advocate here for a moment. For all intensive purposes I think you are wrong. In an age where false morals are a diamond dozen, true virtues are a blessing in the skies. We often put our false morality on a petal stool like a bunch of pre-Madonnas, but you all seem to be taking something very valuable for granite. So I ask of you to mustard up all the strength you can because it is a doggy dog world out there.”

I’d laugh hysterically save for the time when an earnest colleague sent me some copy to post on a website that contained the word: “wahlah”

I went to him and respectfully asked him what “wahlah” meant as I was unable to find it in the dictionary. He was perturbed that I would ask such a silly thing and explained it was what a magician says when he pulls s rabbit out of the hat. I thought on that for a minute and then it dawned on me that we were talking about “voila.”