JULY 9, 2016 -- BY JIM NEFF







Summer is a time of year to be endured while we wait for next ski season. At least that's what I tell my family when the temperature hovers near ninety degrees, causing me to go into my grumpy old man routine.


I like summer in general, but some things drive me batty. Deer flies think my bald pate is an airport runway. When I wear shorts, mosquitoes consider my exposed chicken legs an appetizing buffet. A mixture of sun screen and insect repellent makes me exude a lovely toxic waste dump aroma. Even my beer warms up too fast. No wonder things get under my skin in the summer. And that includes all the whippersnappers out there. Get off my lawn! Grrr...


For example, I really enjoyed the music in the City Park during the Freedom Festival, but a pet peeve of mine kept me growling during each performance. It drives my crazy when people walk in front of the performers while a show is going on. It's rude to the audience watching the show. It's disrespectful to the performers. It's just a lack of common courtesy. How would you like it if some oblivious person walked their dog across your desk in the middle of a work day? There are nice alternate routes that have been designed for use during performances. Perhaps when something is happening on stage, some temporary barriers and detour signs might make an “educational” point. Grrr...


One thing I like best about summer is that I get to watch baseball. Even that pursuit can make me grumble, though. I cannot figure out why some major league players insist on wearing necklaces during games. Every time a player runs the thing bounces around and they have to tuck it back into their shirt. For pitchers this happens on every pitch. What are we doing here, guys, playing baseball or putting on a fashion show for QVC? Leave the neckwear in the locker room! Grrr...


Another thing driving me bonkers is the preponderance of ball players with big, bushy beards. I'm aware of the whole lumbersexual trend, but for every nicely trimmed beard in the majors there are ten others that are scruffy and wildly out of control. Why, in this age of potential product endorsements, would you want to look like you're planning on going to the Yukon to pan for gold? Grrr...


Speaking of baseball, if a couple of Congressmen have their way minor league players won't be able to even afford necklaces or trips to the barber for a beard trimming. “A bill introduced by Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky's 2nd district) and Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois's 17th district) (would) make minor leaguers exempt from Federal minimum wage requirements.” (http://www.mlbdailydish.com/2016/6/29/12060404/minor-league-salaries-congress-cheri-bustos-brett-guthrie-screw)


Most people think pro ball players make a lot of money, but in the minors most players get no signing bonus and average about $4.00 per hour. They are on the payroll, such as it is, of the major league clubs. “Nobody expects minor leaguers to make a fortune, but they need to at least make a living wage during the season. They need to be compensated fairly for the time and effort they put in.”


Last year Major League Baseball made $9 billion for the owners of its thirty teams. Forbes magazine notes Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers, is worth $4.8 billion all by himself. The roster of the Tigers is being paid $174 million this year. Does it sound to you like these owners won't survive if the peons in the minors get minimum wage?


Ah, but with all the things this country needs, it's comforting to know that the focus is on saving thirty billionaires a few thousand bucks. And Congress wonders why the American people give them a 14 percent approval rating. Grrr...



I hope everyone had a good time over the Fourth of July, but one thing I won't miss about the holiday is the explosions of fireworks going off in my neighborhood at all hours of the day and night. This includes last Wednesday and Thursday nights. I have not seen my cat in a week. China produces ninety percent of the world's fireworks, an industry that takes in about $4 billion. So Americans celebrate their independence by supporting the Chinese economy? Does anyone else find that a bit ironic? Oh yeah, 94 percent of American flags are also made in China. Grrr... (http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_grind/2016/07/china_makes_most_of_the_world_s_fireworks_and_bears_most_of_the_danger.html)


Well, regardless of how grumpy I get, at least I can take comfort in the fact that I don't live in Miami. Besides being hot all the time, 24/7 Wall Street rated it as the worse city in which to live in the United States. The ten worst are: Miami, Detroit, Paterson, N.J., Hawthorne, Calif., Fall River, Mass., Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, Tenn., Flint, Cleveland, and Gary, Ind.

I also do not live in the least healthy city (Beckley, WV), the city with the most idle youth (McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX), the city with where people say they are the most miserable (Charleston, WV), or the city in Michigan with the shortest life expectancy for residents (Battle Creek). (http://247wallst.com/?s=50+worse+cities&x=0&y=0)


Overall, I guess, things could be worse, so I should stop complaining. After all, ski season is only about 128 days away.


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.  

John Auchter
MLive Media Group
Jul 8, 2016