The Day That Separates the Contenders from the Pretenders

Today at 4 p.m. Eastern Time marks the Non-waiver Trade deadline for Major League Baseball.

This magic day is when teams that feel like they are missing one or two pieces to make a run deep into the playoffs make deals with teams that are nowhere near playoff level and want to shed expensive contracts and look towards the following season.

Often times a player is traded as a

The Little Train Museum That Could

I suppose, if we are really honest with ourselves, all of us at one time or another have been fascinated by trains.

Of course, that fascination tends to turn to cursing when one is running late to work while stuck at a railroad crossing watching a slow moving hundred plus car train lumber by at a speed slower than most people can walk. But for the most part, there is a little train engineer in all of us if we really stop to think about it.

One of the steam powered locomotives on display at the Galveston Railroad Museum. Exhibits cover all eras of train travel.
Photo R. Anderson

While some people dream of riding the rails like a hobo without a care in the world, others tend to picture themselves as a suave international super spy crisscrossing the globe by rail one shaken, not stirred vodka martini at a time.

This past weekend, I took my inner train engineer to the Galveston Railroad Museum.

I had wanted to go to the museum for years but just never seemed to find the time. And then once I had the time, a Hurricane named Ike flooded the museum with nine feet of water leading to a lengthy closure and repair process that made going to the museum impossible.

So, with Ike a distant memory, and the museum reopened, it was finally time to make the trip down to Galveston to see the museum and all of its railroad themed splendor.

One of the newest exhibitis at the Galveston Railroad Museum is a pair of locomotives painted in the colors of Santa Fe rail lines.
Photo R. Anderson

My first experience with a train museum was the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD which is on the register of historic places. The B&O Railroad Museum is considered by many to be the quintessential train museum in the country.

I have also taken several “tourist” train rides in multiple countries. So, I knew a thing or two about trains heading to the museum.

I also enjoy when old train stations are re-purposed into modern uses while maintaining a bit of the history of the railroad past. Examples of this I enjoy are Minute Maid Park which is housed in Houston’s old Union Station and still maintains a bit of train culture with the presence of a locomotive above the outfield and the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis’ Union Station that includes Pullman train cars that were converted into guest rooms.

I do not say all of that to toot my own train whistle, but merely to point out that the Galveston Train Museum had big tracks to fill in order to grab my attention when compared to my previous railway history.

I can definitely say that the Galveston Railroad Museum did not disappoint and will probably be a regular stop of mine as they continue to bring exhibits back to life following the damage done by Ike.

Several of the train cars at the Galveston Railroad Museum still have signs of being under nine feet of water during Hurricane Ike.
Photo R. Anderson

With an admission price of $7 for adults plus an optional $4 for a short train ride along the cruise terminal area, one would be hard pressed to find a better bargain on the museum circuit.

Housed in the former Galveston Train Depot, the museum features trains from steam power to diesel power and all manners of locomotion in between.

There are examples of dining cars, mail cars, sleeper cars, box cars, etc.  There is even a room with a model train set as well as a room dedicated to china and silverware from dining cars through the ages.

And while not all of the cars have been restored yet, several were open for a closer hands on inspection.

A ride along Harborside Drive on a transfer caboose can make anyone feel like the railway version of the “king of the world”.
Photo R. Anderson

Walking through some of the cars gave me a complete out of Bond experience where I felt like I was inside one of Ian Fleming’s novels.

There was also a certain Murder on the Orient Express feel as examples of the way train travel used to be propelled me back to that era in time.

Or at least what I think the era was like since I was not alive during the golden age of railroads.

But the train cars were definitely as I had pictured them to be. Although, on a hot and humid Texas afternoon some pumped in air conditioning in the cars definitely would have been nice.

The interior of a mail car at the Galveston Railroad Museum.
Photo R. Anderson

And one cannot really speak about railroads without thinking of all of those people who toiled to build the Transcontinental Railroad and open up the country from coast to coast.

While planes soon replaced trains as the way to get from coast to coast, one can’t help but feel some nostalgia for a cross country train ride.

Traveling from one end of the country to the other on a train is certainly on my to do list. Of course, odds are it will be a one-way trip since I am sure I will have had my fill of the motion of the train swaying back and forth after a week on the rails.

The lobby of the old Galveston Train Depot includes several “ghosts of riders past” in various examples of the hustle and bustle that train travel once had.
Photo R. Anderson

The last passenger train left Galveston in 1967 and while there are rumblings now and then about returning a Houston to Galveston rail line, they seem to be far from reality at the moment.

Most of the trains that run through now are hauling freight from the ports and the refineries and not people.

And they are also the trains that like to stop along the way to load and unload their cargo while blocking many a railroad crossing in the process.

Light rail and bullet trains are the current buzz words and there is plenty of Federal funding being thrown around to connect cities by rail as a means to free up congestion on the highways.

It seems fitting to have a picture of a caboose at the end of a column about trains since they once marked the end of the train.
Photo R. Anderson

Unfortunately, while the concept of train travel in the northeast is part of the daily vocabulary other regions seem hesitant to give up the freedom that comes from driving their own cars and clogging up those aforementioned highways.

So, for now the dream of commuting by rail will remain just that until a time comes where trains become as popular as cars and other means of traveling from home to work and back again.

But for those who want to see what a commuter train system might look like, they need only travel to the Galveston Railroad Museum and take a look at the trains and “ghosts of passengers past” exhibits to see what was, and what could be again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, as the late Johnny Cash would say “I hear the train a comin.”

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Two Sides of Sportsmanship on Display This Week

Earlier this week the baseball world was rocked by the news that former National League MVP Ryan Braun basically lied repeatedly regarding his use of performance enhancing drugs. Braun was suspended for the rest of the year and people started wondering whether he could ever regain the respect of the Milwaukee Brewers fans when he does return next season.

Normally this type of admission would carry through for the entire week in the media as the sports world anxiously awaits news of the next stars to fall. But a funny thing happened Wednesday night to help restore one

Braun First Player to Face New Era of MLB Punishment

The other day it was announced that Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to a suspension that will last until the start of spring training next year.

By most accounts the suspension will be for 65 games since it is unlikely that the Brewers will make the postseason this year. Since he is suspended without pay it will cost him around $3.5 million in salary.

The suspension comes as a result of Braun being linked to the use of banned performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs and other suspension for several other players implicated in the probe

Pudge Takes His Place Among Texas Ranger Greats

This past Saturday in Arlington, Texas, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez became the 16th person to be inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony occurred prior to the Rangers and the Orioles taking the field. And while the game itself clearly belonged to the Orioles, the pregame ceremony was about honoring Pudge for his time as a Ranger.

During a 21-year career that started in 1991 when he was only 19-years-old, Pudge was voted to the All-Star game 14 times. He was named the 1999 American League MVP and earned seven Silver Slugger Awards with six of those coming during his 13-year tenure with the Rangers.

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the 16th person inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame Saturday before the Rangers versus Orioles game. Photo R. Anderson
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez became the 16th person inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame Saturday before the Rangers versus Orioles game.
Photo R. Anderson

While the bulk of Pudge’s career was spent in a Rangers’ uniform he played for the Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, Astros and Nationals before retiring at the start of the 2012 season.

While Saturday night was all about honoring his years with the Rangers, I tend to remember Pudge more as a member of the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins squad as well as a member of the Astros in 2009.

It was during his brief time with the Astros that Pudge broke the record for most games caught. Fittingly enough Rodriguez surpassed Carlton Fisk’s record of 2,226 games caught during a game against the Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington allowing the Rangers’ fans to take part in Pudge’s record setting evening.

Shortly after breaking the record the Astros traded

We Knew They’d Be Bad, But This Bad?

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game behind us, and about two and a half months of season ahead of us, this is the time that most prognosticators roll out their list of surprises and predictions for the rest of the season.

This allows them to pat themselves on the back on the things they got right, and remind us how fluid the game is and make new predictions for the ones that they got wrong.

Over the past few days I have read many such articles of predictions gone well and predictions that didn’t quite pan out at the midpoint of the season. While I made predictions at the start of the season I do not believe in a mid course correction. Instead we will see how they hold up at the end of the year.

As part of this yearly ritual of assessing the season at the halfway point the subject of which teams will be trading away players and which teams will be getting players also comes up.

Lance Berkman was traded to the Yankees in the first phase of the Astros epic rebuilding process. He has been on winning teams ever since. The Astros have yet to post a winning record since the trade. Photo R. Anderson
Lance Berkman was traded to the Yankees right at the trading deadline four years ago in the first phase of the Astros epic rebuilding process. He has been on winning teams ever since. The Astros have yet to post a winning record since the trade.
Photo R. Anderson

July 31, is considered the main trade deadline and a flurry of activity usually occurs with teams far from contending dumping players and payroll to teams that still have a chance at playoff glory but may be missing a piece or two in that winning formula.

For the past few years the question of how many games over 100 will the Astros lose and how many players will they trade en route to that inevitably gets discussed in the local Houston media and with a third straight year of futility in progress the national media has been weighing in on the matter as well.

So everyone agrees that the Houston Astros and their lowest in baseball by a long shot payroll are not going to the playoffs in any way, shape, or form. In fact, by most estimates, it will be several years before the Astros can even think about such lofty goals.

But the baseball season is a long season and the Astros want to put fans in their ballpark since fans equal money and money keeps the lights on.

Adding Insult to Injury with a Dose of Minivan Thrown In

As mentioned the other day the Triple B Family Truckster has been ill over the past week or so with a faulty sensor that has all kinds of lights on the dash illuminated and prevents the use of cruise control among other creature comforts.

This is a bad thing since it is the main mode of transportation to get to the various sights and sounds that make it onto the pages of Triple B.

Knowing that the car was in need of repair I made an appointment to have it fixed. I learned of the need for appointments last week and following the Dealership

Baseball on the Silver Screen Offers Something for Everyone

Tomorrow, marks the DVD release of the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier and all of the issues that he faced as a result of that.

I have previously written about the movie and Jackie Robinson and will be adding the movie to my collection of baseball movies sometime this week.

The pending addition of another movie into my growing collection of films about baseball got me thinking about just how many films there are about baseball.

My baseball film collection is modest by most standards I would think but I am also highly particular about which movies get added to it. I am the same way about my collection of books about baseball believing firmly in the quality of quantity approach.

While I doubt that any one person could collect every single movie about baseball, nor do I think they should try, there are definitely movies that capture each element of the game and should be part of any collection of baseball movies.

Hundreds if not thousands of movies have been made about the game of baseball through the years. Photo R. Anderson
Hundreds if not thousands of movies have been made about the game of baseball through the years.
Photo R. Anderson

Just taking into account the Kevin Costner Baseball trilogy one is exposed to the humor that comes from Bull Durham, the emotional Field of Dreams, and the tale of a pitcher holding on for one more perfect moment in For Love of the Game.

Personally I would love to see Kevin Costner take on another baseball role as a manager or some other area where a former player struggles with life once the fans stop cheering their name. But it appears that wish will need to wait as Costner seems content with playing the earthly dad to Superman.

So moving away from the Kevin Costner movies about baseball there are the films with a certain fantasy element to them. For these movies one can usually look at the Walt Disney vault for films like Angels in the Outfield.

Of course making a movie about a team that they owned was sheer marketing genius by the Mouse House. But, then again you don’t get to become as big as the Walt Disney Company without being good at business.

While I never really bought into the fantasy elements of Angels in the Outfield, there was one Disney baseball movie deemed worthy to join my collection and that movie was the Rookie.

Car Karma Finally Works in My Favor, Sort Of

It has been well documented that we here at Triple B enjoy taking road trips to various ballparks, beaches and places beyond.

With few exceptions the preferred mode of transportation to get to each of those places is by car. So when my trusty car started acting up this week it was certainly cause for alarm. After all, a car is usually required in order to hit the open road.

The problems started when a series of lights illuminated on my dash indicating an issue with the traction control and brake system.

It is never a good thing when the dash warning lights stay on. Photo R. Anderson
It is never a good thing when the dash warning lights stay on.
Photo R. Anderson

Doing what any wise driver would do I consulted my owner

Knowing When to Call it a Career Doesn

History is full of stories of athletes riding off into the sunset at the top of their game and as Champions.

Football has given us the image of Ray Lewis, Michael Strahan and John Elway hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl Champions before calling it a career and head into life after football.

In baseball Tony LaRussa managed the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title in his final game as a full-time manager.

In opera it was always known that the end of the performance was coming when the